Confusing mixture of measures

When I went to buy a belt at my local K-Mart, my job was made harder because some of the belts were sized with letters (S, M, L, XL, XXL and so on) and others were sized with centimetres.

At another shop, the belts were sized in inches. Three different measurements for just one item!

It’s the same for men’s trousers. Most ordinary trousersare sized in centimetres but jeans are usually sized in inches.

Then there are shoes. They may be sized in British, American or Continental sizes.

Finally, take rural land. Its area may be quoted in hectares, or acres or both. I found an example on page 30 of Domain in the Sydney Morning Herald for the weekend of 5-6 August 2016. At the top of this page there two two advertisements for rural land, side by side. One used just acres, the other used just hectares.

For crying out loud. It’s 40 years after metrication

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Quite a lot of products are produced for the American market . They still use Imperial weights and measures . Most fishing rods till recently were in pounds and ounces regarding the line class and sinker weight they were suitable for . America is a very large market no doubt .

For them to refer only to the measurement of acres is actually against the law. The only legal definition of a parcel of land’s size is in metric terms eg hectares or square metres. Real Estate moved to the metric system in about 1987 as there was a progressive move to Metrication allowed for under the Act that was called “The Metric Conversion Act”.

I believe it is the same for any measurement for Australian purposes. So what the ad should have stated was the parcel size in metric terms and then they could have advised the size in acres.

The USA officially adopted metric as the preferred system of measurements in 1975 :smiley:

Our “mixed messages” are not so bad in comparison.

Yes I see that under President Ford the Americans adopted the metric system as the preferred system for "trade and commerce " in 1975 . I am keen shooter and enjoy fishing .I reload all my own ammunition. I just checked all my reloading Manuals , from American companies Hornandy , Speer and Lyman , and all velocities and muzzle energy were given as feet per second and foot pounds at the muzzle which is imperial not metric. By the reading of the act it does say Trade and Commerce . Those books as marketed here would fall under Trade and Commerce . I purchased them here in Australia not through Amazon or any other American company . I also purchased two new fishing reels recently . The brand being Fin Nor. An American brand .The model designation was Ahab 8 and Ahab 12 . 8 meaning 8 lb line class , the 12 meaning 12 lb line class . I would have to read the whole act of 1975 thoroughly Phil to get a better understanding of it and after all it does say preferred and not required system of measurement. Very interested in your post .

A quick summary is that any time the American government “dictates” to Americans, they most often reply with a loud and forceful FU.

There are many interesting google hits on American metrification such as

Got to love them, I guess, especially for their fear it might facilitate a Russian invasion.


@PhilT Unbelievable . Yep the west was won by "inch , yard and mile " The Russian invasion . I like that one . I guess the world would be a very boring place if we all thought the same . Good post , good link .

Sorry the Americans use their own system of measurement just to keep you on your toes. A U.S. gallon is 3.8L versus 4.5 for an imperial Gallon. A pint is 16 oz not 20 and an oz is a different size again.
Want an interesting task? Try to get a real estate person to do an exact conversion from hectares to acres.


@martin1 Their gallon was generally always referred to as a “Short Gallon " Another interesting thing with them is that if they ask you your height and weight .Mine for instance is 5 foot seven inches 5’ 7” and weight 9 stone 3 lbs .They generally would not know what a stone was . You would have to tell them 129 lbs . Each to his own I guess . If they are happy with the system they use , good on them .

There are some global events where metric and imperial met -

and for those with interests in the related conversion math for those three events, see

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I’m from the UK and it’s even more confusing there. We measure distance in miles, fuel efficiency by mpg (miles to the gallon) but buy fuel in litres. We measure small things by grams, but people’s weight in stones. We measure water in litres, but milk in pints. Give me strength!

At least links, roods, perches and cwt are no longer around!

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We can’t forget the good old chain though . 1 chain =66 feet =22 yards = 100 links = 4 rods .
10 chains = 1 furlong 80 chains is 1 statute mile an acre is 10 square chains .

I would be remiss if I did not contribute the oft confusing world of computer industry metrics. This slightly dated overview (using floppy disks as examples!) is as good as I have seen.

I know that the US and the UK still use a lot of their old measures, but that has little to do with rural land sales in Australia. Here if you buy a suburban block the area will be given in square metres. Ditto with commercial blocks, which use either square metres or hectares. Why then O why do Australian real estate agents advertise rural blocks of land in a confusing mixture of acres and hectares? This could and should be sorted out, if not by the Real Estate Institute of Australia then by legislation.

The same applies to clothing sizes. In Australia there should be just one measure, and that should be an end to it.