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Metric Abbreviations

SI Standard Metric Units

Metric unit abbreviations of length are defined by standard SI prefixes and the abreviation for the base unit of length in the SI system, the metre, m. For example 1,000 metres is 1 kilometre, which is written as 1km in abbreviated form. It is unusual for metric units to have non-standard abbreviations. Where there is a non-standard abbreviation it is often from an obsolete name for the unit.

The word metre is spelt in two different ways. Users of American English use the spelling 'meter', whereas others use 'metre' from the original French spelling.

Yoctometre

SI Abbreviation: ym

Zeptometre

SI Abbreviation: zm

Attometre

SI Abbreviation: am

Femtometre

SI Abbreviation: fm

Picometre

SI Abbreviation: pm

The picometre was also called the micromicron (Abbreviation: μμ) prior to standardisation on the term picometre.

Nanometre

SI Abbreviation: nm

The nanometre was also called the millimicron (Abbreviation: mμ) prior to standardisation on the term nanometre.

Micrometre

SI Abbreviation: μm

The micrometre is often referred to as a micron with abbreviation μ.

Millimetre

SI Abbreviation: mm

Centimetre

SI Abbreviation: cm

Decimetre

SI Abbreviation: dm

Metre

SI Abbreviation: m

Decametre

SI Abbreviation: dam

Hectometre

SI Abbreviation: hm

Kilometre

SI Abbreviation: km

The kilometre is sometimes abbreviated to klick in military use (especially when spoken)

Megametre

SI Abbreviation: Mm

Gigametre

SI Abbreviation: Gm

Terametre

SI Abbreviation: Tm

Petametre

SI Abbreviation: Pm

Exametre

SI Abbreviation: Em

Zettametre

SI Abbreviation: Zm

Yottametre

SI Abbreviation: Ym

Other Metric Units

Myriametre

Abbreviation: mym

The myriametre is an obsolete metric length unit equavalent to 10,000 metres.

Imperial Abbreviations

Imperial & US Customary Length Units

There are many Imperial length units, most of which are obsolete in the modern world. Those that are in use often have more abbreviations than their metric counterparts. This is sometimes due to historical changes but in most part due to attempts to disambiguate the abbreviations from metric abbreviations. For example the abbreviation for the mile was formerly m, but this abbreviation is in use for the metre so the mdern standard abbreviation for the mile is mi.

Imperial length units can be split into two sections land units and nautical units.

Length Units (Land)

This section covers common units, such as miles, yards, feet and inches, and many less common units.

Thou

Abbreviation: th

Also known as the thousandth (as it is one thousandth of an inch) or sometimes in the USA as the mil. Plurals are thousandths and mils respectively.

inch

Abbreviation: in

The double quote symbol " is used to indicate inches. e.g. 3" for three inches.

Foot

Abbreviation: ft

The single quote symbol ' is used to indicate feet. e.g 5' for five feet.

Yard

Abbreviation: yd

Rod

Abbreviation: unknown

The rod is a unit of length also known as the pole or perch (neither of which appear to have abbreviations either).

Link

Abbreviation: unknown

Chain

Abbreviation: ch

Furlong

Abbreviation: fu

Commonly used for lengths of horse races, this unit is often abbreviated as just f.

Mile

Abbreviation: mi

Commonly abbreviated as m. This abbreviation is being discouraged as it is the abbreviation for the metre.

League

Abbreviation: lea

Length Units (Nautical)

This section covers Nautical miles, fathoms and other units that are used at sea.

Fathom

Abbreviation: ftm

Shackle

Abbreviation: unknown

Cable

Abbreviation: unknown

Nautical Mile

Abbreviation: M

The standard abbreviation for the nautical mile M, is very rarely used with NM being preferred by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The IEEE prefers nmi and nm is often used in naval applications (this abbreviation is also used as the abbreviation for the nanometre).

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