foot (unit of length)

1 foot =
SI units
mmm
US customary / Imperial units
ydin
A foot (plural: feet or foot;[1] symbol or abbreviation: ft or, sometimes, – a prime) is a unit of length, in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary units. Its size can vary from system to system, but in each is around a quarter to a third of a metre. The most commonly used foot today is the international foot. There are 3 feet in a yard and 12 inches in a foot.

Definition

International foot

In 1958 the United States and countries of the Commonwealth of Nations defined the length of the international yard to be 0.9144 metres. Consequently, the international foot is defined to be equal to 0.3048 metres (equivalent to 304.8 millimetres).

The international standard symbol for a foot is "ft" (see ISO 31-1, Annex A). In some cases, the foot is denoted by a prime, which is often approximated by an apostrophe, and the inch by a double prime. For example, 5 feet 2 inches is denoted by 5′2″. This use can cause confusion, because the prime and double prime are also international standard symbols for arcminutes and arcseconds.

United States survey foot

The United States survey foot is defined as exactly 12003937 metres, approximately 0.30480061 m. It is used only in connection with surveys by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. It is 610 nm greater than the international foot. [2] The U.S. Survey Foot is used by Land Surveyors and other cartographers for the plans and maps they produce. Each state has a law that states which form of the foot is used for surveys within the given state. The difference is particularly noticeable when converting coordinates that are on the State Plane Coordinate System of the given state.

Historical origin

The foot as a measure was used in almost all cultures and was usually divided into 12, sometimes 10 inches/thumbs or into 16 fingers/digits. The first known standard foot measure was from Sumer, where a definition is given in a statue of Gudea of Lagash from around 2575 BC. Some metrologists speculate that the imperial foot was adapted from an Egyptian measure by the Greeks, with a subsequent larger foot being adopted by the Romans.

Some of the earliest records of the use of the foot come from the region of ancient Greece. The originators devised, or perhaps borrowed from Egypt, the degree of longitude, divided the circumference of the earth into 360 degrees, and subdivided the degree for shorter distances. One degree of longitude comprised 600 stadia. One stadion was divided into 600 feet. Thus the degree of longitude measured 360,000 feet. One mile was 10 stadia or 6000 feet. This is essentially the same mile that was (or still is) used in the Western hemisphere, but the modern foot is longer than the original. This could be explained by an ancient Egyptian measure of the degree of longitude made near Thebes compared to a redefinition of the length of the foot referencing the degree of longitude at the equator. The difference in the length of the geodesic foot measured at these two locations would give the modern mile, 6000 ancient Greek feet or 10 stadia, and 5280 equatorial feet.

The popular belief is that the original standard was the length of a man’s foot. This is most likely true, but when local authorities and national rulers began calibrating and defining measurements, the foot of no human being was probably used as the basis. In rural regions and without calibrated rulers, many units of measurement were in fact based on the length of some part of body of the person measuring (or for example the area that could be ploughed in a day). In that sense, the human foot was no doubt the origin of the measuring unit called a "foot" and was also for a long time the definition of its length. To prevent discord and enable trade, many towns decided on a standard length and displayed this publicly. In order to enable simultaneous use of the different units of length based on different parts of the human body and other "natural" units of length, the different units were redefined as multiples of each other, whereby their lengths no longer corresponded to the original "natural" standards. This process of national standardisation began in Scotland in 1150 and in England in 1303, but many different regional standards had existed in both these countries long before.

Some believe that the original measurement of the English foot was from King Henry I, who had a foot 12 inches long; he wished to standardise the unit of measurement in England. However this is unlikely, because there are records of the word being used approximately 70 years before his birth (Laws Æthelstan). This of course does not exclude the possibility that this old standard was redefined ("calibrated") according to the ruler's foot. In fact, there is evidence that this sort of process was common at least in earlier ages. In other words, a new important ruler could try to impose a new standard for an existent unit, but it is unlikely that any king's foot was ever as long as the modern unit of measurement.

The average foot length is about 9.4 inches (240 mm) for current Europeans. Approximately 99.6% of British men have a foot that is less than 12 inches long. One attempt to "explain" the "missing" inches is that the measure did not refer to a naked foot, but to the length of footwear, which could theoretically add an inch or two to the naked foot's length. This is consistent with the measure being convenient for practical uses such as building sites. People almost always pace out lengths whilst wearing shoes or boots, rather than removing them and pacing barefoot.

There are however historical records of definitions of the inch based on the width (not length) of a thumb that are very precise for the standards of the time. One of these was based on an average calculated using three men of different size, thereby enabling surprising accuracy and uniformity throughout a country even without calibrated rulers. It therefore seems likely that at least since about the 12th century the precise length of a foot was in fact based on the inch, not the other way around. Since this length was fairly close to the size of most feet, at least in shoes, this enabled the above-mentioned use of one's shoes in approximating lengths without measuring devices. This sort of imprecise measuring that in addition excessively multiplied the measuring error due to repeated use of a short "ruler" (the foot) was of course never used in surveying and in constructing more complicated buildings.

Notes

1. ^ BBC World Service
2. ^ A. V. Astin & H. Arnold Karo, (1959), Refinement of values for the yard and the pound, Washington DC: National Bureau of Standards, republished on National Geodetic Survey web site and the Federal Register (Doc. 59-5442, Filed, June 30, 1959, 8:45 a.m.)
International System of Units (abbreviated SI from the French Le Système international d'unités) is the modern form of the metric system.
1 metre =
SI units
1000 mm 0 cm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
The metre or meter[1](symbol: m) is the fundamental unit of length in the International System of Units (SI).
1 millimetre =
SI units
010−3 m 0 cm
US customary / Imperial units
010−3 ft 010−3 in
The millimetre (American spelling: millimeter, symbol mm
U.S. customary units, also known in the United States as English units[1] (but see English unit) or standard units, are units of measurement that are currently used in the USA, in some cases alongside units from SI (the International System of Units
Imperial units or the Imperial system is a collection of units, first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824, later refined (until 1959) and reduced.
1 yard =
SI units
0 m 0 mm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
A yard (abbreviation: yd) is the name of a unit of length in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary
1 inch =
SI units
010−3 m 0 mm
US customary / Imperial units
010−3 ft 010−3 yd

An inch (plural: inches; symbol or abbreviation: in or, sometimes,
prime symbol ( ′ ), double prime symbol ( ″ ), triple prime symbol ( ‴ ) etc. are used to designate several different units, and for various other purposes in mathematics, the sciences and linguistics.
units of measurement have played a crucial role in human endeavour from early ages up to this day. Disparate systems of measurement used to be very common. Now there is a global standard, the International System (SI) of units, the modern form of the metric system.
Length is the long dimension of any object. The length of a thing is the distance between its ends, its linear extent as measured from end to end. This may be distinguished from height, which is vertical extent, and width or breadth
English unit is the American name for a unit in one of a number of systems of units of measurement, some obsolete, and some still in use. In spite of the name, it does not necessarily refer to the (non-SI) system of units still in widespread, but mostly unofficial, use in England
Imperial units or the Imperial system is a collection of units, first defined in the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824, later refined (until 1959) and reduced.
U.S. customary units, also known in the United States as English units[1] (but see English unit) or standard units, are units of measurement that are currently used in the USA, in some cases alongside units from SI (the International System of Units
Distances shorter than 10 cm

Conversions

10 cm is equal to
• 1 decimetre,
• 100 millimetres,
• 3.9 inches,
• a side of a square of area 0.01 m²
• edge of cube of volume 1 litre
91.44 cm is one yard

Wavelengths

• 10.

1 metre =
SI units
1000 mm 0 cm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
The metre or meter[1](symbol: m) is the fundamental unit of length in the International System of Units (SI).
1 yard =
SI units
0 m 0 mm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
A yard (abbreviation: yd) is the name of a unit of length in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary
1 inch =
SI units
010−3 m 0 mm
US customary / Imperial units
010−3 ft 010−3 yd

An inch (plural: inches; symbol or abbreviation: in or, sometimes,
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
1920s  1930s  1940s  - 1950s -  1960s  1970s  1980s
1955 1956 1957 - 1958 - 1959 1960 1961

Year 1958 (MCMLVIII
Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
(and largest city)
Official languages English
Membership 53 sovereign states
-  Head of the Commonwealth Queen Elizabeth II
1 yard =
SI units
0 m 0 mm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
A yard (abbreviation: yd) is the name of a unit of length in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary
1 metre =
SI units
1000 mm 0 cm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
The metre or meter[1](symbol: m) is the fundamental unit of length in the International System of Units (SI).
1 metre =
SI units
1000 mm 0 cm
US customary / Imperial units
0 ft 0 in
The metre or meter[1](symbol: m) is the fundamental unit of length in the International System of Units (SI).
1 millimetre =
SI units
010−3 m 0 cm
US customary / Imperial units
010−3 ft 010−3 in
The millimetre (American spelling: millimeter, symbol mm
ISO 31-1 is the part of international standard ISO 31 that defines names and symbols for quantities and units related to space and time.

Its definitions include:

Quantity Unit Remarks
Name Symbol Name Symbol Definition
angle,
(plane angle)
prime symbol ( ′ ), double prime symbol ( ″ ), triple prime symbol ( ‴ ) etc. are used to designate several different units, and for various other purposes in mathematics, the sciences and linguistics.
apostrophe  or  ' ) is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritic mark, in languages written in the Latin alphabet.
1 inch =
SI units
010−3 m 0 mm
US customary / Imperial units
010−3 ft 010−3 yd

An inch (plural: inches; symbol or abbreviation: in or, sometimes,