The Phrontistery




Units of Measurement

Do you know the story of the facetious unit of beauty called the 'millihelen'? Since it is that the astonishingly beautiful Helen of Troy had 'a face that launched a thousand ships', a millihelen is a unit of beauty equal to the ability to launch one ship. None of the 153 units of measurement below is as interesting as that, but they just might be more useful, often in scientific and technical contexts. The proper unit is a tool to allow us to measure and organize the world - by length, volume, energy, or some other aspect of reality. And hey, we all love reality, don't we? I've avoided the simplest metric and imperial measures (gram, foot, metre, inch, etc.), but almost all the rest should be there.


Word Definition
aam archaic unit of liquid measure ranging from 37 to 41 gallons of wine
abampere unit equivalent to 10 amperes
abvolt unit of electrical potential equal to one hundred millionth of a volt
acre-breadth old unit of length of 22 yards
ampere unit for measuring amount of electrical current
angstrom unit of one ten-billionth of a meter
arpent unit of land area slightly smaller than an acre
astronomical unit unit of distance equal to the distance from the earth to the sun
bar unit of pressure of one million dynes per square centimeter
barleycorn old unit of length equal to one-third inch
barn unit of area measurement of particles equal to 100 square femtometres
baud unit of data transmission speed of one signal event per second
bel unit of noise intensity equal to ten decibels
butt unit of volume equal to two hogsheads or 126 gallons
calorie unit of heat or heat-producing value
candela unit of luminous intensity
carat unit of weight of precious stones equal to 200 milligrams
centner old unit of weight equal to about 110 pounds
chain unit of length equal to 22 yards
chaldron old unit of dry volume equal to between 32 and 72 bushels
clove old weight of seven to ten pounds for wool or cheese
cord unit of wood equal to 128 cubic feet
coulomb unit of electrical charge of one ampere over period of one second
cubit unit of length equal to 18 inches
curie unit of radioactive decay and intensity
cusec unit of liquid flow equal to one cubic foot per second
dalton unit of atomic mass
darcy unit of permeability of rock to various substances
dash non-specific very small unit of measurement used in cooking
decibel unit for measuring sound intensity
denier unit of yarn fineness
digit unit of length equal to 3/4 of an inch
dioptre unit of measurement of power of lens or eye
dol unit for measuring intensity of pain
dram unit of weight equal to 1/16 of an ounce
dyne unit of force to accelerate 1 gram to 1 cm per second per second
elephant large unit of paper measurement equal to 28 by 23 inches
ell old unit of length equal to 45 inches
em unit of measuring width of typeface where width of letters equals height
erg unit of work measuring force of one dyne applied over one centimeter
face-cord unit of wood measurement equal to a stack four by eight feet in volume
farad unit measuring electrical capacitance
fathom unit of length equal to six feet used to measure depth of water
fermi unit of length equal to one quadrillionth of a metre
fifth unit of measure of liquor equal to one fifth of a gallon
firkin old unit of capacity equal to one quarter of a barrel
footlambert unit of luminance of a surface emitting one lumen per square foot
fresnel unit of optical frequency equal to one terahertz
furlong unit of distance equal to 220 yards
gal unit of acceleration of one centimeter per second per second
gamma unit of magnetic flux density equal to one nanotesla
gauss unit of magnetic flux density equal to 1/10000 tesla
gilbert unit of magnetomotive force
gill unit of liquid volume equal to one-quarter pint
grain unit of weight equal to 1/7000 of a pound
gray unit of absorbed dose of ionizing radiation equal to 100 rads
hand unit for measuring height of horses equal to 4 inches
henry unit of electrical inductance
hertz unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second
hide old unit of land area equal to 120 acres
hobbet measure of two and a half bushels
hogshead unit of capacity equal to 63 gallons
horsepower unit of power equal to 550 foot-pounds of work per second
hundredweight unit of weight of 100 pounds (112 pounds in UK)
jansky unit of strength of radio wave emission
jiffy unit of time used in computing equal to 1/100 second; any small unit of time
joule unit of work done by force of one newton over distance of one meter
karat unit of fineness of gold equal to 1/24 part of pure gold
kelvin unit of temperature based on absolute zero, equal to 1 degree Celsius
kilderkin old unit of capacity equal to 1/2 barrel or 18 gallons
kilobase unit of measure of length of nucleic acid chain equal to 1000 base pairs
kip unit of weight equivalent to 1000 pounds
lambert unit of brightness of light
langley unit of solar radiation
league unit of distance of between 2.4 and 4.6 miles
link unit of length used by surveyors, equal to 7.92 inches
lumen unit of luminous flux
lux unit of illumination equal to one lumen per square meter
magneton unit of the quantized magnetic moment of a particle
maxwell unit of magnetic flux
mecate old Mexican measure of about one-tenth of an acre
megadeath unit of fatality equal to one million deaths
mho unit of electrical conductance
mil unit of 1/1000 inch used for measuring thickness of wire
minim unit of liquid volume equal to 1/480 fluid ounces
mnemon unit of memory, largely hypothetical
mole unit of substance equal to number of atoms as 12 grams of carbon-12
morgan unit of inferred distance between genes on a chromosome
morgen unit of land area slightly more than two acres
mutchkin old unit of liquid measurement equal to 3/4 of an imperial pint
nail old measure of two and a quarter inches
neper unit for expressing ratio of two currents or voltages
newton unit of force that accelerates 1 kilogram to 1 meter / second / second
oersted unit of magnetic field strength
ohm unit of electrical resistance of circuits
osmol unit of osmotic pressure
palm unit of length equivalent to width or length of the hand
parsec unit of interstellar distance equal to 3.26 light-years
pascal unit of pressure equal to one newton per square meter
peck unit of dry measure equal to 8 quarts
pennyweight unit of troy weight equal to 24 grains
phon unit of loudness of sound as heard by listeners
photon unit of brightness of light as received at the retina
pica unit of typeface equal to about 1/6 of an inch
pipe unit of liquid capacity equal to two hogsheads
pitch unit of typeface equal to number of characters per inch
point unit of typeface equal to 1/72 of an inch
poise unit of viscosity of liquids
pole unit of area equal to a square rod
pottle unit of liquid measurement of two quarts, or one-half gallon
poundal unit of force that accelerates 1 pound to 1 foot / second / second
probit unit of measurement of statistical probability
quad unit of energy equal to one quadrillion British thermal units
quarter unit of weight equal to 28 pounds
quintal unit of weight equal to 100 kilograms
quire unit of 24 sheets of paper
rad unit of absorbed dose of ionizing radiation
radian unit of plane angular measurement, approximately 57.3 degrees
rod unit of length equal to 1/320 of a mile
roentgen unit of x-radiation or gamma radiation
rood old unit of land area equal to 1/4 acre
rundlet old liquid measure equal to about 15 gallons
rutherford unit of radioactive decay equal to 1 million disintegrations per second
sabin unit of acoustic absorption of one square foot of a perfect absorber
scruple unit of weight used by apothecaries equal to 1/24 of an ounce
shake unit of one hundred millionth of a second used to measure nuclear processes
siemens unit of electrical conductance equivalent to one ampere per volt
slug unit of gravitational mass of approximately 32.174 pounds
sone unit of loudness on a scale based on subjective or perceived loudness
span unit of distance equal to handspread or nine inches
stack old unit of measure for firewood equal to 108 cubic feet
stone unit of weight equal to 14 pounds
svedberg unit of time used to measure sedimentation velocity
tesla unit of magnetic flux density equal to one weber per square meter
tex unit of measurement of fineness of fibres and yarn
therblig unit of work for quantifying industrial operations
therm unit of quantity of heat equal to 100,000 British thermal units
thirdendeal old liquid measure of three pints; one-third of anything
tod old unit of weight of wool equal to 28 pounds
tog unit of measurement for insulation properties of fabric
ton unit of cooling power equal to 12,000 BTU per hour
torr unit of pressure equal to 1/760 of standard atmospheric pressure
tun unit of liquid capacity of 252 gallons
vara unit of linear measure of between 33 and 43 inches
verst unit of distance equal to approximately 2/3 of a mile
virgate old unit of land area usually equal to 30 acres or 1/4 hide
volt unit of electrical potential difference and electromotive force
watt unit of power equal to one joule per second
weber unit of magnetic flux equal to 100 million maxwells
wey old measure for dry goods usually equal to 40 bushels
yardland unit of land area equal to 30 acres
yrneh unit of reciprocal inductance
zolotnik old Russian unit of weight equal to 1/6 of an ounce


I hope you have found this site to be useful. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please contact me. Please note that I am not able to respond to all requests. Please consult a major dictionary before e-mailing your query. All material on this page © 1996-2014 Stephen Chrisomalis. Links to this page may be made without permission.

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