An imperial unit of length, equivalent to:

During the time of the Romans, a foot was determined to be twelve inches long. The Roman Legion measured marches in paces. Paces were double steps consisting of two steps foward which, on average, was 5.28 feet in horizontal distance. A mille passus equaled a thousand paces and became what is known as a mile today. That is why there are 5,280 feet in one mile.

Over the countless years of history, there were actually several versions of a mile:

1 Statute Mile   =  5,280 Feet
1 Scots Mile     =  5,952 Feet
1 Irish Mile     =  6,720 Feet
1 Russian Verst  =  3,504 Feet
1 Italian Mile   =  4,401 Feet
1 Spanish Mile    = 15,084 Feet

A Roman mile is indeed defined a thousand Roman paces. However, a Roman pace is considered five Roman feet. This developed into the English mile, 5000 English feet. The English mile was changed by parliamentary decree to 5280 ft. so that it could be divided into furlongs, which are 660 ft., as they were an important unit of measure at the time.

Something I've always wondered: is a pace, stride, Roman pace, etc. measured from heel to heel? This would lead to consistent measurement. I was always under the impression that they were measured from heel to toe, which would mean that one would always have to subtract the length of a foot from every subsequent unit of measure, meaning that only the first pace is three feet, the first stride about four, the first Roman pace about five.

Mile (?), n. [AS. mil, fr. L. millia, milia; pl. of mille a thousand, i. e., milia passuum a thousand paces. Cf. Mill the tenth of a cent, Million.]

A certain measure of distance, being equivalent in England and the United States to 320 poles or rods, or 5,280 feet.

⇒ The distance called a mile varies greatly in different countries. Its length in yards is, in Norway, 12,182; in Brunswick, 11,816; in Sweden, 11,660; in Hungary, 9,139; in Switzerland, 8,548; in Austria, 8,297; in Prussia, 8,238; in Poland, 8,100; in Italy, 2,025; in England and the United States, 1,760; in Spain, 1,552; in the Netherlands, 1,094.

Geographical, ∨ Nautical mile, one sixtieth of a degree of a great circle of the earth, or 6080.27 feet. -- Mile run. Same as Train mile. See under Train. -- Roman mile, a thousand paces, equal to 1,614 yards English measure. -- Statute mile, a mile conforming to statute, that is, in England and the United States, a mile of 5,280 feet, as distinguished from any other mile.


© Webster 1913.

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