Something that I’ve found very interesting over the years is units of measurement and their conversions, particularly those that record linear distance. I’m talking about inches, feet, miles, centimeters, meters, kilometers, etc. I even find it interesting that you can say KILLO-meter or kill-LOM-eter.

One thing I’ve always been curious about is how it came to be that a mile is 5,280 feet. I did some Google work, and the best hit I found was a copy-and-paste from Wikipedia. The article was about inches, but I really wanted to know about miles, and Wiki had an article for that, too.

Apparently miles come from ancient Egypt or ancient Rome. A mile was the length of 1,000 pairs of strides by a Roman soldier. The word “mile” is derived from *mille passus*, thousand paces. But in 1593, England’s Queen Elizabeth I changed the mile from 5,000 feet to 8 furlongs. A furlong is 660 feet, so that’s where we get our current value of 5,280 feet. So where does the furlong come from?

A furlong is the length of a furrow in a one-acre plot of land. Okay — what’s an acre?

The acre is today defined as 4,840 square yards, but it was originally come up with to describe the amount of land that could be plowed by one person with one ox in one day.

So in a nutshell, that’s what a mile is.