List of obsolete units of measurement

This is a list of obsolete units of measurement, sorted by type. These units of measurement are typically no longer used, though some may be in limited use in various regions.


Energy, etc.Edit


  • Ald
  • Alen
  • Aṅgula
  • Arabic mile
  • Arş and Arşın – two Turkish units of length
  • Bamboo – also known as the Burmese league
  • Barleycorn - one-third of an inch.
  • Button – a unit of length which has been used in the UK. It is defined as 112 in (2.1 mm).[3]:29
  • Cana – a unit of length used in the former Crown of Aragon, at least in Catalonia. It is around the same value as the vara of Aragon, Spain, and Portugal.[4]
  • Cubit[5]
  • Ell
  • Girah
  • Guz
  • Hat'h
  • Jow
  • Lachter – a unit of length once used in the mining industry in most of Europe. It was usually used to measure depth, tunnel driving and the size of mining fields; it was also used for contract work. In mining in the German-speaking countries, it was the primary unit of length.
  • Ligne – a French unit of length, roughly equal to 2.25 mm (0.089 in), or 9 points
  • Line
  • Macedonian cubit
  • Pace
  • Palm
  • Parasang
  • Pes
  • Pyramid inch – a unit of length, believed to be equal to ​125 of the cubit
  • Rod
  • Sana lamjel
  • Spat – a unit of length equal to 1,000,000,000 km (620,000,000 mi)
  • Stadion
  • Step
  • Unglie
  • Vara – an Aragonese, Spanish and Portuguese unit[4]
  • Yojana – a Vedic measure of distance used in ancient India. Its value was about 10 km (6.2 mi), although the exact value is disputed among scholars (between 8 and 13 km or 5 and 8 mi)


A Hefner lamp (German: Hefnerkerze)
  • Candlepower – an obsolete unit expressing luminous intensity equal to 0.981 candela, it expresses levels of light intensity in terms of the light emitted by a candle of specific size and constituents. In modern usage candlepower equates directly to the unit known as the candela.
  • Carcel burner – an efficient lighting device used in the nineteenth century for domestic purposes and in France as the standard measure for illumination
  • Carcel
  • Hefner candle
  • Violle

Mass or weightEdit

Volume (dry or liquid)Edit

Glass milk bottles from 1950s Quebec. From largest to smallest, they are a pinte (quart), a chopine (pint), and a demiard (half-pint).[7] The latter was used for cream.
  • Acetabulum
  • Adowlie
  • Amphora
  • Aum
  • Belshazzar
  • Botella − The Spanish for "bottle", which has been given various standard capacities at different times and places, and for different fluids.[8] Often-cited figures include 0.95 liters in Cuba (1796), 0.75 liters in Cuba (1862) and 0.7 liters in Colombia (1957).[9]
  • Bucket
  • Butt
  • Chungah
  • Congius
  • Coomb
  • Cord-foot – a U.S. unit of volume for stacked firewood with the symbol cd-ft equal to 16 cu ft (0.45 m3)[3]:52
  • Cotyla
  • Cran
  • Cullishigay
  • Deal – a former U.K. and U.S. unit of volume for stacked firewood.[3] A U.K. deal equaled 7 ft × 6 ft × ​2 12 in, while a U.S. deal equaled 12 ft × 11 in × ​1 12 in.[3]
  • Demiard - an old French unit of volume. When France metricated, it survived in Louisiana and Quebec. The demiard eventually became associated with the American and British half-pint rather than French units.[3]:34 See the article on the demiard for details.
  • Firlot
  • Hekat
  • Homer
  • House cord – a former U.S. unit of volume for stacked firewood[3]
  • Kile
  • Koku
  • Lambda – an uncommon metric unit of volume discontinued with the introduction of the SI
  • London quarter
  • Lump of butter – used in the U.S., up to and possibly after of the American Revolution. It equaled "one well rounded tablespoon".[10]
  • Masu
  • Metretes
  • Octave
  • Omer
  • Pau
  • Peck – the name of two different units of volume, one imperial and one U.S. Both equaled about 9 litres.
  • Puddee
  • Salt spoon – used in the U.S., up to and possibly after of the American Revolution. Four salt spoons equaled one teaspoon.[10]
  • Seah
  • Ser
  • Shipping ton – a unit of volume defined as 50 cu ft (1.4 m3)
  • Stuck
  • Wineglass – used in the U.S., up to and possibly after of the American Revolution. One wineglass equaled ​14 cup.[10]


  • Apothecaries' system
  • Atom (time) – a hypothetical unit of time used in the Middle Ages
  • Bahar – a unit of length in Iran, and was a unit of mass in Oman
  • Batman – mostly a unit of mass, but sometimes a unit of area
  • Demal – unit of concentration
  • Dimi (metric prefix) – a discontinued non-SI metric prefix for 10−4[3]
  • Fanega – a unit of dry volume, and a unit of area
  • Fresnel – a unit of frequency
  • Garce – a unit of dry volume in India, and a unit of mass in Sri Lanka
  • Hobbit – a unit of volume, or, more rarely, of weight
  • Kula – a unit of area in India, and mass in Morocco
  • Last – a unit of mass or volume
  • League – usually a unit of length, but sometimes a unit of area
  • Leiden scale
  • Mache
  • Mesures usuelles
  • Newton scale – a temperature scale devised by Isaac Newton in 1701.[11][12][13]
  • Perch – most commonly a unit of area, but sometimes a unit of length or volume
  • Pièze – a unit of pressure
  • Rood – a unit of area or length
  • Sack – originally a medieval unit of mass, equal to 26 stone (364 pounds, or about 165 kg). Since a unit of dry volume, equal to 24 imperial gallons (about 109 liters).
  • Schoenus – a unit of area or length
  • Scrupulum – a unit of area, mass, or time
  • Seam – a unit of mass or volume
  • Seer – a unit of mass or volume
  • Toise – a unit of area, length, or volume
  • Tub – usually a unit of mass, but sometimes a unit of volume
  • Uncia – an ancient Roman unit of length, mass, or volume
  • Wey – a unit of mass or volume
  • Winchester measure – a system of volume measurement

See alsoEdit

By geographyEdit


  1. ^ a b Herlihy, David (2009). Medieval Households. Harvard University Press. p. 69. ISBN 9780674038608.
  2. ^ Lessa or Lecha Unit Converter
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cardarelli, François (2003). Encyclopaedia of Scientific Units, Weights and Measures. Their SI Equivalences and Origins. London: Springer. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-4471-1122-1.
  4. ^ a b Gilbert, E.W.; Beckinsale, R.P. (1944). Spain & Portugal: Spain. Its Geographical handbook series. Naval Intelligence Division.
  5. ^ Hoong, Tho Lai; Yi, Tho Mun (2008). Interactive Science For Inquiring Minds Volume A. Panpac Education Pte Ltd. p. 33. ISBN 9812716181.
  6. ^ Kisch, Bruno (1965). Scales and Weights. Original from the University of California: Yale University Press. p. 237.
  7. ^ Trudel, Marcel, Introduction to New France, p. 222
  8. ^ lists figures for bottles in Bolivia from 460 ml to 1 liter.
  9. ^ McCusker, John (2005). Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic World. Routledge. p. 63. ISBN 1134703406.
  10. ^ a b c Pelton, Robert W.; Pelton, W. Pelton (2004). Baking Recipes of Our Founding Fathers. Infinity Publishing. pp. 263–264. ISBN 0741419440.
  11. ^ Published anonymously as "Scala graduum Caloris. Calorum Descriptiones & signa." in Philosophical Transactions. 1701. pp. 824–829.
  12. ^ Nichols, Joannes, ed. (1782). Isaaci Newtoni Opera quae exstant omnia. 4. pp. 403–407.
  13. ^ Silverman, Mark P. (2002), A Universe of Atoms, Springer, p. 49, ISBN 9780387954370

Further readingEdit

  • Encyclopaedia of Historical Metrology, Weights, and Measures; Jan Gyllenbok; Birkhäuser; 2018; 3 Volumes.
  • Historical Metrology: A New Analysis of the Archaeological and the Historical Evidence Relating to Weights and Measures; Algernon Berriman; Praeger; 1970; ISBN 978-0837124247.