A mile is any of several units of distance, or, in physics terminology, of length. Today, one mile is mainly equal to about 1609 m on land and 1852 m at sea and in the air, but see below for the details. The abbreviation for mile is 'mi'.


Current definitions

The meanings of mile that are commonly used today are:

  • The statute mile, or more specifically
    • The international mile is the one typically meant when the word mile is used without qualification. It is defined to be precisely 1760 international yards (by definition, 0.9144 meter each); it is therefore exactly 1609.344 meters. It is used in the United States and the United Kingdom as part of the Imperial system of units. The international mile is equivalent to 8 furlongs, or 80 chains, or 5280 international feet.
    • The U.S. survey mile is precisely equal to 5280 U.S. survey feet or 6336/3937 kilometers or, approximately 1609.347 meters. One international mile is precisely equal to 0.999 998 survey mile. The survey mile is used by the United States Public Land Survey System.
  • The international nautical mile is defined to be exactly 1852 meters. It is used universally for aviation, naval and maritime purposes and originated from the geographical mile.
  • In Norway and Sweden, a distance of 10 kilometers is most commonly referred to as a mile, see mil.


Throughout history many units of length named mile have been used, with widely differing definitions, originating with the Roman mile of approximately 1479 meters. A Roman mile consisted of 1000 "double steps", or two strides by a Roman soldier. The Latin term for each such double stride is a passus having a length of 5 Roman feet or approximately 4.83 English feet. The word mile itself has been derived from the words mille passus (plural milia passuum), a thousand paces. Along the roads built by the Romans throughout Europe, it was common to erect a stone every mile to announce the distance to Rome, the so-called milestones. The noun milliarium (plural milliaria), designating a milestone, was also used as a figurative alternative for mile.

In navigation, the geographical mile was commonly used, defined as 1 minute of arc along the Earth's equator, approximately equal to 1855 meters.

The name statute mile goes back to Queen Elizabeth I of England who redefined the mile from 5000 feet to 8 furlongs (5280 feet) by statute in 1593.

When the international mile became legal in mid-1959, the survey mile was retained for measurements derived from U.S. cadastral surveys.

In Denmark and most of Germany the mile in the 19th century was an approximately 7.5 km geographical mile (determined by 4 minutes of arc) specified by Ole Rmer. In parts of Germany there also existed an exact 7.5 kilometer metric mile variant, but it mostly went out of use at the beginning of the 20th century. The Ole Rmer mile was for a long time used as a sea mile in Scandinavia, but was in the middle of the 20th century replaced by the international nautical mile (which corresponds to 1 minute of arc). The international nautical mile is still often referred to by traditionalist Scandinavians as a quarter mile. In Norway and Sweden, a mile in daily speech refers to a traditional unit that is still very commonly used, but now defined as 10 kilometers, see mil.

In Ireland the Irish mile of 2240 yards (about 2048.3 meters) was used legally until 1826, and by some reports survived until the conversion to the meter as the unit measurement for distance, in early January 2005.

Others miles are:

Russian verst
1066.8 m (exactly 3500 feet = ca. 1168 yards) of 500 sazhen
Scotch mile
1814.2 m (1984 yards) of 320 falls
Austrian Meile
7585.9 m (8296 yards) of 240 Ruten (rods) or 400 Klafter (fathoms)

See also

External links

da:Mil de:Meile es:Milla eo:mejlo et:Miil fr:Mille (unit de longueur) it:Miglio (unit di misura) ja:マイル lb:Meil nl:Mijl nn:Mile pl:Mila pt:Milha ru:Миля simple:Mile sl:milja fi:Maili sv:Mil tr:Mil


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools