Yard: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1 yard =
SI units
0.91440 m 914.40 mm
US customary / Imperial units
3.0000 ft 36.000 in
Standard lengths on the wall of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London - 1 yard (3 feet), 2 feet, 1 foot, 6 inches (1/2 foot), and 3 inches. The separation of the inside faces of the markers is exact at an ambient temperature of 60 °F (16 °C) and a rod of the correct measure, resting on the pins, will fit snugly between them.[1][2]
This derivation of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, depicts nine historical units of measurement: the yard, the span, the cubit, the Flemish ell, the English ell, the French ell, the fathom, the hand, and the foot. The Vitruvian Man was drawn to scale, so the units depicted are displayed with their proper historical ratios.

A yard (abbreviation: yd) is a unit of length in several different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary units. It is equal to 3 feet or 36 inches, although its length in SI units varied slightly from system to system. The most commonly used yard today is the international yard, which is defined to be exactly 0.9144 metre.


Equivalence to other units of length

1 international yard is equal to:

  • 3 feet (1 foot is a third of a yard)
  • 36 inches
  • 0.9144 metre (1 metre is equal to about 1.0936 international yards)[3]

The early yard was divided by the binary method into two, four, eight, and sixteen parts called the half-yard, span, finger, and nail. Two yards are a fathom.

Historical origin

The yard derives its name from the word for a straight branch or rod,[4] although the precise origin of the measure is not definitely known. Some believe it derived from the double cubit, or that it originated from cubic measure, others from its near equivalents, like the length of a stride or pace. One postulate was that the yard was derived from the girth of a person's waist, while another claim held that the measure was invented by Henry I of England as being the distance between the tip of his nose and the end of his thumb.[5] It was first defined in law by Edward I of England in 1305,[6][7][8] and again by Edward III of England in 1353.[9]

Following the destruction of the British Standard Yard in the 1834 fire at the Palace of Westminster, consideration was given to a reproducible standard should the physical measure be lost again. The Weights and Measures Act 1855 Act was passed defining the standard yard based upon the length of a seconds pendulum.[10] This is 39.1392 inches, and can be derived from the number of beats (86,400) between two meridians of the sun. The 36-inch yard was defined accordingly. The temperature compensated pendulum was to be held in a vacuum at sea level in Greenwich, London to give the length of the standard yard.[11] However, a new physical Imperial Standard Yard was authorised by the Weights and Measures Act 1878,[12] and was the legal standard in the United Kingdom until 1964.

Current use

The yard is used as the standard unit of field-length measurement in American, Canadian, Association football and cricket.

There are corresponding units of area and volume, the square yard and cubic yard respectively, and these are sometimes referred to simply as "yards" when no ambiguity is possible. For example, an American or Canadian concrete mixer marked with a capacity of "11 yards" or "1.5 yards", where cubic yards are obviously referred to.


  1. ^ Bennett, Keith (2004), Bucher, Jay L., ed., The Metrology Handbook, Milwaukee, WI: American Society for Quality Measurement, p. 8, ISBN 978-0-87389-620-7  .
  2. ^ Walford, Edward (1878), Old and New London, VI, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45276  .
  3. ^ A. V. Astin & H. Arnold Karo, (1959), Refinement of values for the yard and the pound, Washington DC: National Bureau of Standards, republished on National Geodetic Survey web site and the Federal Register (Doc. 59-5442, Filed, June 30, 1959, 8:45 a.m.)
  4. ^ "yard2", A New Dictionary of English on Historical Principles, 10b, Oxford: University Press, 1928, pp. 16–17  .
  5. ^ Hone, William (1839), The Every-day Book and Table Book, London: R. Griffin & Co., p. 378, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IzoHAAAAQAAJ  .
  6. ^ 33 Edw. I, c. 6.
  7. ^ Bigg, P. H.; Anderton, Pamela, "The Yard Unit of Length", Nature 200: 730–32, doi:10.1038/200730a0  
  8. ^ Watson, C. M. (1910), British Weights and Measures, London: John Murray, pp. 36–39, http://www.archive.org/details/britishweightsme00watsuoft  .
  9. ^ 27 Edw. III, c. 10.
  10. ^ 18&19 Vic., c. 72.
  11. ^ Bunch, Bryan H.; Hellemans, Alexander (1988), The Timetables of Science, Siimon & Schuster, ISBN 0671621300, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qg0PAAAACAAJ  .
  12. ^ Glazebrook, Richard (1922), "Measurement, Units of", Dictionary of Applied Physics, 1, pp. 580–88, http://www.archive.org/details/dictionaryofappl025484mbp  .

See also



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also yard



Proper noun




  1. (the Yard) Scotland Yard or New Scotland Yard
  2. (Jamaican) Jamaica

Derived terms


Simple English

A yard is:

  • An open space around a house, school, or other building. For instance, the space around a school is called a school yard. A yard is used by humans and their pets. If there is wild space next to it, like forest land, swamp land, a beach or a lake, this will not normally be considered "part of" the yard - the yard ends at the edge of it.
  • One of several U.S. customary units of measurement, meaning three of the US foot in length. For instance, the American football field is 100 yards long, not counting the end zones. It is called the US yard sometimes.
Yards (and other Imperial units) have been retired in many European countries, including EU member states such as Spain. The UK however, stil uses yards.)
  • British use of the word "yard" is different from the American. In Britain a yard is usually a paved area that is used for some purpose, e.g. a builder's yard where there is a lot of machinery. An area around a house with grass and flowers is always called a "garden".


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