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WikiProject iconMeasurement C‑class (defunct)
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WikiProject iconKilometre has been listed as a level-5 vital article in Science (Basics). If you can improve it, please do.
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According to Google, kilometer is 5 times more common than kilometre. Is there an official standard for the spelling in English? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stevenj (talkcontribs) 18:18, 12 April 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One is the British spelling, (-tre) the other is the American spelling (-ter). Like Centre vs Center, Colour vs Color, Realise vs Realize, etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:03, 3 June 2004 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So then, what's the standard spelling for Wikipedia? I've always assumed that it's American English, since there are more Americans and the site is based in America and whatnot. However, why are bot users going around and changing everything to English English spelling? Is there any justification for that besides the pain that English people have without their beloved colours and centres and whatnot? I'd like to know what the Wiki standard is before these changes go any further. Or farther. Or whatever. --Carl 04:14, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Here is the policy you are after. For as long as you Americans keep the silly Imperial units, you have to live with our way of spelling SI units. :-) — Danc 14:17, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)
There is no official spelling for English: each country follows its own standard. For the most part these standards are similar with one exception. The exception is, of course, American spelling. Call it English English spelling, call it British English spelling, ... this is how the rest of us spell. Sure there are more of you than there are of us ... but by no means overwhelmingly so ("us" includes British, Irish, Sth Africans, Kiwis, Aussies, Canadians, etc.).
As Danc, shows you'd be wrong to assume that American spelling is the standard for Wikipedia. Why are Americans on the one hand shunning the metric system and then on the otherhand respelling it? How this for a fair solution: let's stick with the more (and less ambiguous: note parking meter) spellings rather than the Americanised (yes, Americanised) versions ... at least for the metric system?
So what would be the justification for changing everything to American English spelling? What besides the pain that American people have without their beloved colors and centers and whatnot? By the way Danc, the Americans don't use the silly Imperial units but the similar and just-as-silly US customary units. Jimp 6Oct05 — Preceding undated comment added 04:29, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
More people use Commonwealth ENglish spelling than American English spelling. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Psywave (talkcontribs) 15:37, 11 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Or, not... More *countries* use it, but it is not the case that more "people" use the "commonwealth spelling" with "tre" instead of "ter". Two-thirds of native English speakers are American, and Americans spell it with a "ter". Further, Wikipedia was founded by, and remains a website owned by citizens of, based in and supported from the United States. The suggestion that because the customary system of measurement in the U.S. does not include the kilometer, means that the American spelling is therefore "wrong" and any country that uses SI units as their standard (not true, by the way. You use _metric_ units, which are quite distinct from SI units) gets to determine the "right" spelling is incredibly fatuous. So no one uses the kilometer in America? Scientists don't use it? Surveyors? Math students? It's a word we borrowed from the Commonwealth and then perverted with our oddly literal phonetic spelling (or do you pronounce it kill-om-eh-tray?) I wouldn't even attempt to change the name of this article, because it's certain it would be changed back. I've already learned that members of the "Commonwealth" consider the spelling with an re something akin to a personal standard of clean living, and that winning this argument is about as hopeless as a one-legged no-armed man in an ass-grabbing contest, but I was annoyed by the misinformation and ridiculous justifications. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:09, 2 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
ass-grabbing? Why blame donkeys all the time? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 28 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Turns out that page you liked to (here) is not clear on the spelling recommended by wikipedia. Huh. Also, this page seems to tell off those going through and changing things away from internal consistency. Double huh. I'm going to stick with the Americanized spellings--if they're already the majority spelling in the article. Sorry. Friedlad (talk) 04:56, 7 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you look for the article kilometer you will see that in 2007 it was deleted and redirected to kilometre. Martinvl (talk) 12:39, 2 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I use Wikipedia to learn things about the rest of the world. I wish Americans would too. Given the spelling of the article title, it's insane to use US spelling inside the article. HiLo48 (talk) 23:01, 28 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

slang term "k's" ?[edit]

I've often heard people (and myself) use "K's" (pronounced 'kays') as a slang term for kilometres. ie "Town is 20 k's down the road" . Do people think this warrants adding as a slang term along with clicks (which I've only seen used by US soldiers in books or movies)? - SimonLyall 00:47, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

It is only spelled or also written. IMHO non useful, to me is not enciclopedicAnyFile 21:55, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Hi, sorry I don't quite understand what you mean by "only spelled or also written". Saying "kays" is very common in speech and does crop up in writing. Have a look at these google searches: [1] , [2] , [3] . SimonLyall 22:59, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I was asking if it is used in writing AnyFile 20:46, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Yes it is, see the google links. Some of the usage are in articles rather than just quotes from diologue. Authors are from Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand. Kays is a normal term in english speaking metric countries. SimonLyall 02:09, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
In Oz, merely "K" is also used. "The town is 20 kay down the down"
Klicks is also used by civilians in Canada, where road signs and speedometers use kilometers. I don't think they use "K's". -- Curps 02:00, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Are the terms "k" and "klick" used in any other languages? In Finland, people would look at me funny if I tried to use them. They wouldn't have a clue what I was on about. Finnish uses "kilo" as shorthand for the kilogram and "kilsa" for the kilometre. JIP | Talk 05:28, 13 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In Australia (dunno if that's another "language") the abbreviations "klicks" and "kays" are BOTH very commonly used. TheBustopher (talk) 02:48, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Tbh, 'kays' is used more as a generic shorthand for a thousand than simply kilometers. One could be talking about 20k in currency (common in RPGs) or 20k of resistance (i.e. 20 kiloohms) etc. --Imagine Wizard (talk · contribs · count) Iway amway Imagineway Izardway. 00:49, 26 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I pronounce "kilometre" with the stress on the first syllable, and so do a significant minority (though admittedly it is a minority) of people I know. Is there a prescribed "correct" pronunciation? The section about this in the article itself seems to brook no dissent! Loganberry 23:47, 15 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Per I have removed the claim that pronouncing it 'ki-LOM-i-ter' is incorrect. Despite the pronunciation's origins, it is entrenched in the USA (first attested to "before 1830", and preferred by ~70% of the prescriptionist American Heritage Dictionary's usage panel). — Saaber 22:22, 10 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ultimately it doesn't matter as the listener will understand you either way. HOWEVER, pronouncing it with the stress on the first syllable suggests that you understand the metric system, while using the other version implies that you don't. This might be the reason why Americans almost universally insist on mispronouncing the word. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:28, 24 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would dispute that the BBC or the scientific community in general use kilo-metre. That is very rare, almost all use ki-LOM-etter these days. My argument always is that 'kilo' is the important bit. These people don't say kil-LOG-ram or cen-TIM-etter Cannonmc (talk) 09:35, 14 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
My observational but (so far) unsubstantiated view on this is that the familiar American speech pattern differs from the British/other English speech pattern by virtue of common use and a simple way of going about things. For example, American pronunciation of multiple syllable words often stresses the second syllable, whereas the same word spoken by a British person would typically stress the first and third. Examples: Ca-RIBB-ean vs CARR-i-BE-an, cen-TRIF-ugal vs CEN-tri-FYOO-gal (same goes for centripetal). I use the word kilometres a lot when talking with international visitors to my place of work. It is certainly common that British people (in my experience) tend to prefer the American-sounding ki-LOM-etre in everyday speech, but I find that saying KIL-o-MEE-ter lands better with non-native English speakers, especially those from European nations. Which, tangentially, brings me to an amusing memory of an interview with Andre Agassi. The interviewer was stressing his surname as a-GASS-ee. Mr Agassi, quick as a flash, responded "you're putting the em-PHAS-is on the wrong sy-LAB-ul". Weasley one (talk) 10:31, 1 October 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I always argue for the KIL-o-metre over the kil-OM-etre, not only for the consistency with other units of measure (millimetre, centimetre, etc.) as has already been mentioned, but also for the fact that putting the emphasis on the second syllable is consistent with measuring INSTRUMENTS, such as mic-ROM-eter, ther-MOM-eter, ba-ROM-eter, tac-OM-eter, speed-OM-eter, etc., not measurements themselves. Supt. of Printing (talk) 15:03, 1 October 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I changed the order so that former and latter made sense (sorry, I forgot to sign in). The pronunciations were listed back to front to their references later in the section Ningnongtwit (talk) 09:20, 27 October 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

various reverted edits[edit]

Gene Nygaard just reverted some edits of mine about which I'd like some clarification. 1) Surely, stating that it is an SI unit makes sense in the introduction. Just like saying that the other units it is compared to are imperial. One cannot assume something like that is known. Suppose it were compared to, say, Chinese units (I haven't a clue what they use there), then I'd like to know what they are, so I can look it up as a frame of reference. 2) Nothing major, but the word kilometre is indeed often misused to designate kilometre/hour and I suppose that merits a mention, especially since it is wrong. DirkvdM 19:25, 13 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think I tried to make a partial reversion when I was half awake. Some of it needed to be changed, but I didn't get it right either. I have no objection to identifying the kilometer as a metric unit.
For some reason I though you had taken out the American spelling, but you hadn't. It was probably the moving of the symbol to place it before the American spelling. However, since the symbol is the same no matter how the word is spelled out in full, it should follow both spellings.
Yes, I think I was half asleep too :) . DirkvdM 09:21, 14 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I do object to classifying yards and the like as "imperial" units. They are never called imperial units in the United States, for example (that adjective is reserved for the best the British could come up with for a decimal system in the 1820, taking something which had been various folumes equal to eight pounds of whatever, and making it the volume of ten pounds of water, and the multiples and submultiples of the imperial gallon). Better would be English units. However, some would quibble about that as well, and—most importantly—there is no reason to identify them as part of any system at all, since this article deals with the kilometer.
Being too lazy to say the "per hour" in a colloqial context is something quite different from inventing new slang terms for these units. I don't think it is significant enough to bother metioning, and if it is mentioned it should be in a separate paragraph.
Furthermore, you shouldn't mix spelled out words and mathematical operators. Use "kilometers per hour" or "km/h", not "kilometers/hour". Gene Nygaard 02:55, 14 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed on all point except one, my first point hereabove. Mentioning the system of the units it is compared to makes too much sense. This is largely inspired by a fight a gainst systemic bias (or is that systematic bias?) in Wikipedia. Related to this is that it shouldn't be assumed that people know what we are talking about. I don't even know what exactly is meant by all these units, so imagine how it will look to someone from, say, Mongolia (or whatever). Is there really no name for the system one can agree upon? Or is it that there is no one system, so that can be linked to? The best article I can find is Imperial unit (English unit is too broad). So instead of deleting all links to it (!) wouldn't it make more sense to deal with this in that article? Maybe even rename it? Another thing is that the word 'mile' is ambiguous. There are (and have been) many definitions of the mile. Which makes it questionable if that unit should be used at all, but I won't go that far. But it does necessitate stating which mile is meant. Once agian, one cannot assume too much about the background of the reader. DirkvdM 09:21, 14 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
How about Imperial/U.S. customary units i.e. [[Imperial unit|Imperial]]/[[U.S. customary units]]? Jimp 6Oct05


Why isn't the abbreviation Km? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:41, 14 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That is they way it is. A small "k" for Kilo, see SI prefix and Kilo. - SimonLyall 11:59, 14 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's exactly what I was going to ask... Albo NL 17:20, 21 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As an aside, the capitalisation of the prefixes is very important in metric, as some prefixes start with the same letter. Take "milli" (a thousandth part) and "mega" (a million times). A mm is a millimetre - a thousandth of a metre, whereas a Mm is a megametre - a million metres. Big difference dependent on the capitalisation of the M, eh?? Only out by a factor of 1,000,000,000 if you get the M and m swapped! TheBustopher (talk) 00:03, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Page moves[edit]

I've pulled this page back from Kilometer to reconnect its history and because the move was inappropriate in the first place. Refer to the Wikipedia Manual of Style. --ToobMug 21:49, 6 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

U.S. roadsigns[edit]

"The USA is gradually kilometerising its road signage". Is it? I hadn't heard. Is this actually the case? KILOMETERISING - what a dreadful word; a classic example of verb misuse. Arcturus 22:38, 1 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hey, like Calvin say, verbing wierds language. —johndburger 02:48, 2 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Over the past few years I have travelled about 10,000 miles on the US interstate system in the midwest and west of the Mississippi. I do see mi/km signs appearing where roads have been repaired and old signs are replaced with new. I don't know whether it is a decision made by state or nat'l gov't but the km is becoming apparent in the system. MarlaB 22:59, 22 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


It states in the article that 1 km equals 0.621 miles. Wouldn't that mean that 1 mile equals 1.610305958 km? In that case there's something wrong because 1 mile = 1.609 km. I know its a small difference, but if you guys calculated all the rest with the wrong numbers, eventually it would add up... Albo NL 17:32, 21 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The yard is defined as 0.9144 m. Which makes the mile exactly 1.609344 km. Thus 1 kilometre is about 0.621371192 mi. which you can round off to 0.621 mi. Your error is due to this rounding off. Yes, you're right to point out that these errors would add up. Each time you do a new calculation it's best to go back to the exact figures. Jɪmp 04:13, 30 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Do not know if a kilometer equal five-eighths (⅝) of a mile (in fraction form) (.625 mile (in decimal form))? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:26, 31 December 2017‎ (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you read the article, or the answer above, you'll see that a mile is 1.609344 km, whereas if 1 km was five-eighths of a mile that would have meant that a mile was exactly 1.6 km. --David Biddulph (talk) 11:35, 31 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


whats the thing one longer then kilometer (if there is one) like meter * 1000 = kilometer kilometer * 1000 = ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 12 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

1000 km is 1 Mm (one Megameter).  See also SI prefix. — Monedula 09:03, 14 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed WikiProject[edit]

Right now the content related to the various articles relating to measurement seems to be rather indifferently handled. This is not good, because at least 45 or so are of a great deal of importance to Wikipedia, and are even regarded as Vital articles. On that basis, I am proposing a new project at Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals#Measurement to work with these articles, and the others that relate to the concepts of measurement. Any and all input in the proposed project, including indications of willingness to contribute to its work, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your attention. John Carter 20:54, 2 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Page Layout[edit]

This page needs some better organisation - the first tow sections have a lot of duplication. --jazzle 09:26, 17 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

International Usage[edit]

This section starts off with "The United States of America and the United Kingdom are the only two developed countries that have considered changing their road signs from miles to kilometres..."

What about Canada? We ONLY use km/h signs here... This page shows some examples of Canadian signage: [4] 13:10, 1 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Changed wording, not sure how it eneded up like that. - SimonLyall 00:50, 2 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Looks like a sentence missing a not. JIMp talk·cont 06:08, 14 July 2008 (UTC) ... but that still wouldn't be right since it would assume that all other developed countries once had miles. JIMp talk·cont 06:09, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

List of other SI length units[edit]

The following appears on this article, and other articles for SI units of length:

nanometre <<< micrometre <<< millimetre < centimetre < decimetre < metre < decametre < hectometre < kilometre <<< megametre

I think this list should be made using a template, or it should be removed. I would create the template myself, if I had experience with the MediaWiki template language, but I don't know if this list is really desirable on every length unit article. If the list is desirable, I think it is more appropriate to show it in a box (maybe on Template:Unit of length box?), with a better description. --Eduardo Habkost (talk) 22:55, 5 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I did it: I have created Template:SI units of length. If the list of length units is supposed to appear on the many articles, at least it is on a template. If the community thinks the list of units on each article is not relevant, the template may be proposed for deletion. If this template is considered useful, maybe it could be expanded into a SI units template, referencing all SI base units and derived units that have a wikipedia article. I suggest further discussion to be done on the template talk page. --Eduardo Habkost (talk) 23:51, 5 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Big step backwards[edit]

My edits today were reverted by SimonLyall who states:

rv edits by Jimp. Big step backwards. We do not need the whole first section to be evivs in other units. Please discuss before reformatting the whole article. Perhaps make you wording changes only

... perhaps I make wording changes only ... or ... perhaps I go clean up whatever mess I see ...

There is no requirement to discuss edits before you make them even if that does mean reformatting a whole article. I saw an article in a sorry state and tidied it up.

We don't need the whole intro to be "evivs" in other units, fine, let's stick the evivs in their own section again.

Here's what we don't need.

  • We don't need some drawn out ramble about the different ways one can express 23 × 53.
  • We don't need undue weight given to other units, i.e. the metre, the square kilometre, the cubic kilometre and the kilometre per hour: they've got their own articles, we need only mention and link to them.
  • We don't need the list of equivalences to other units of length to be cluttered with wordy details.
  • We don't need to mention the abbreviation, CJK, if we're never using it in the article.
  • We don't need to link to Chinese language, Japanese language or Korean language; CJK characters alone will do.
  • We don't need to link to country articles, especially not twice.
  • We don't need to link to particular measuring instruments: these are only examples.
  • We don't need to link to kilometres per hour and km/h.
  • We don't need incorrect capitalisation.
  • We don't need inconsistant spelling.
  • We don't need false claims about the length of the light-year.
  • We don't need the implication that all developed countries once used miles on their road signs.

Another thing I'd like to suggest we don't need is blind reverts sweeping away the good, the bad and the ugly all in one shot. You say it's a step backwards, SimonLyall; no, it was many steps. Some steps might not have been in the right direction, others certainly were. You mention only one aspect: the moving of the equivalences into the intro. Let's revise this, otherwise, the ball's in your court, SimonLyall, the discussion has begun, I've indicated why I see your reversion as the over-all backwards step, you're invited to explain why you see otherwise. JIMp talk·cont 17:06, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

thankyou for fixing your previous edit and the problems above - SimonLyall (talk) 08:40, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No worries, glad we can come to an agreement. JIMp talk·cont 09:15, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


A traffic sign showing distance in kilometres at Guntur, India

The intent was good I'm sure but if we want a traffic sign showing kilometres there are thousands which will do so more clearly. JIMp talk·cont 13:16, 7 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pronunciation 2[edit]

I've reverted two of an anon's changes to this section.

  1. The IPA transcriptions are phonemic (they are enclosed with slashes) but the variation apparently shown was merely allophonic (in the case of the flapped /t/) or just a matter of transcription style (in the case of /ɚ/ vs /ɘ(r)/).
  2. Calling one pronunciation "correct" is merely biased.

JIMp talk·cont 00:55, 9 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Re the latter point - calling something wrong or right is a bias toward a fact, which is the whole purpose of wikipedia.
The correct prounciation is "KILLer-meeta". Fullstop, no argument. Unfortunately, due to widespread confusion, the pronunciation "kill-O-m'tre" (with a short O) is probably more frequent, particularly in countries not using SI. Despite the massive prevalence of the incorrect usage, this STILL DOESN'T MAKE IT RIGHT!! :-) I betcha you say kil-O-m'tre, Jimp from what you've written above! But I bet you don't say kil-O-gr'm or sent-I-m'tre, however. TheBustopher (talk) 23:58, 19 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Being American and not from Boston, I say "KILL-uh-meeter", not "KILLER-meeta". I used to say "kill-AH-mitter" like a lot of folks do (or used to do), but Carl Sagan pronounced it "KILL-uh-meeter" and I figured he knew better than I. :) However, stressing the second syllable seems to be a long-standing convention. In Spanish, for example, it's spelled kilómetro. And in French, it's spelled kilomètres, which I take to mean the third syllable is stressed, but I don't know French spelling rules, so I can't say for sure. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:04, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Re kilomètres, the accent over the first e is a grave accent (pointing up and to the left), meaning it is LESS emphasised (as opposed to an accute accent which points up and to the right. But hell, this is the ENGLISH wikipedia, foreign proununciations are really red herrings.TheBustopher (talk) 00:40, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, it just seems odd that in both Spanish and English the stress is on the second syllable rather than the first. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:46, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Err, read the article again on pronunciation - the correct accent is on the FIRST syllable as per conventions of the metric system (ie the unit (metre, gram, hertz, pascal, etc) maintains the same pronunciation regardless of the prefix). It is "killer-gram", "killer-hertz", "killer-metre", etc, etc. To pronounce it kil-O-m'tre breaks this convention because you throw away consistency. No-one says kil-O-gr'm or kil-O-p'scal (with a short emphasised O in the 2nd syllable). No-one says sent-I-m'tre or mill-I-m'tre either. But heaps of people (erroneously) say kil-O-m'tre and change the pronunciation of the unit from "meeta" to "m'tre" only following the "kilo" prefix.TheBustopher (talk) 02:43, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Obviously, no one says kil-O-gram. Not sure where you're getting the "killer" from, as the only "r" is at the end of the word. I don't understand where the stress on the second syllable came from. As I said before... in Spanish-speaking countries, which use the metric system, and in America, which generally doesn't, the majority of the citizens tend to stress the second syllable. Why is that? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:51, 20 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The "killer" should be pretty obvious - it's exactly the sound of the prefix "kilo" if you are an r-dropper (eg British, Australian, New Zealander...) North American residents generally emphasise a trailing "r". Imagine what it'd be like if you didn't - ie "killer" = "killa" TheBustopher (talk) 04:53, 24 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes. I was just ribbing the character who said the "correct" pronunciation was "killer-meeta", which it ain't. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:52, 24 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Would somebody please get a quality dictionary - I checked Chambers - it gave five variants fro teh pronounciation of the prefix "kilo" with two variants for connecting "kilo" to "metre". In other words, there are many different ways to pronounce the word, so please, everybody, stop doing this WP:OR and look at a good reference book. Martinvl (talk) 11:39, 24 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Here's a radical idea: Since you've already looked it up, maybe you could cite those references. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:27, 24 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Sydney Harbour Bridge[edit]

It may be of interest to note that the main span of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is 503 metres, almost exactly half a kilometre. See [5] Michael Glass (talk) 01:38, 7 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Forth Road Bridge[edit]

The Forth Road Bridge's main span is 1006 metres long [6]. There's a photo opportunity for you. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Michael Glass (talkcontribs) 05:25, 7 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

MartinVl's Comments[edit]

There is a risk that the section on visualisation might get out of hand if we include every bridge that is about a kiliometre, about half a kilometre and so on. When I selected the original three items, I found one on each continent and they were as varied as possible. I notice that your addition of the Forth Bridge did not include a picture. I had in fact considered using that example, but I could not find a suitable picture. Also I did not want the examples to be too UK-centric. Martinvl (talk) 09:29, 7 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fair enough. There is a picture on Wikipedia but I could not manipulate it into a thumbnail (my first attempt at such a thing). I'll leave it to you to decide what is excessive or not, but a few more examples might not hurt. For example, Central Park in New York is 2.5 miles long. That's about 4 km. Michael Glass (talk) 09:41, 7 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Severn Bridge[edit]

The Severn Bridge doesn't link England with Wales, the 988m span is between England and England; Aust to Beachley. The Wye bridge which connects with the Severn bridge does cross between England and Wales, but is only 408m long. And why does Wales have a link, while Scotland and England are not links? Sjtaunton (talk) 14:06, 4 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Point taken, changes made. Martinvl (talk) 21:30, 4 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(as distinct from micrometre)[edit]

Two editors, Ehrenkater and Hgrosser, have now added the term that makes up the heading of this section, inside an already bracketed expression in the article, the latter adding an Edit summary of "it is reasonable to make this distinction". After each of those two additions, I have reverted the change. Don't want a three revert situation, so here are my thoughts.

I can't see the point, and would rather not see it there.

Firstly, the construction, with the double brackets, is very clumsy.

Secondly, I'm not even sure what the addition is trying to say. Of course micrometer, the measuring instrument, is distinct from micrometre, the distance. They are spelt and pronounced differently, and mean different things. Why say it.

To Ehrenkater in particular, or anyone else, why is it reasonable to make this distinction? Can we find a less clumsy way of saying it?

HiLo48 (talk) 15:05, 17 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't think the extra wording is required. We have said we are talking about the instrument so there is no need bring up the unit of distance at all. - SimonLyall (talk) 08:55, 19 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sporting venues[edit]

I reverted the addition regarding sporting venues because saying that a kilometre is equivalent to ten football pitches is not very helpful - I know that journalists do that a lot, but Wikipedia is not a newspaper. If however you can find a venue that is one kilometer long, please add it. I checked the Indy 500 article, but it appears that the land set aside for that venue is one mile by half a mile. Also, if you do add examples, try to get them as international as possible (or give a number from different parts of the world). You will notice that the three example that I gave span three continents. I could also have added the width of the Mersey in Liverpool, but as I already had already mentioned London, I felt that this would be too UK-centric. Martinvl (talk) 11:38, 18 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've got to say that the examples did not help me in the least - though I have been to only one of them. I am however very familiar with what a kilometre is. I added Central Park in Manhattan - a distance millions commonly walk - though it is a bit less than a km, so I added one more block also. Btw, the sports venues had nothing whatsoever to do with wp not being a newspaper - a 100 metre and/or 100 yard track is known in most of the world - so it was totally non-current-event-like & internationalized also. I can understand that one cannot truly "visualize" 10 or 11 of them - but the others have little to do with visualization either. I think the sporting venues EVENTS were more helpful than some distance across Niagara Falls between some pretty arbitrary or at least less significant points--JimWae (talk) 19:43, 18 May 2010 (UTC).Reply[reply]
Hi JimWae. Thank you for adding Central Park - it is cetainly a prominent enough landmark to warrant inclusion even if it is a little short of a kilometre. As I have never been to the US, could answer a question for me - "Is it posible to see one end of the park from the other?" You will notice that of the three pictures that I used, two were able to do that. I was unable to find a picture that did justice to The Mall, but I know that Buckingham Palace is visible from the Admiralty Arch (and I suspect the other way round as well though I have never had the opportunity to check that out for myself!). If in your view it is not possible to actually see the other side of the park, it might be appropriate to replace Central Park with the George Washington Bridge whose towers are 1100 m apart. If it is possible, could you look through Wikipedia Commons for a picture to illustrate that (or take a picture yourself)? Any thought? Martinvl (talk) 20:39, 18 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am sure that there are many pictures of Central Park taken from a nearby skyscraper, such as and 3 more in the Central Park article. It has the added advantage of being walked daily by so many people. It is not visualization that needs to be developed, but familiarity - and walking it makes it much more familiar than simply viewing from a distance. Hardly anyone walks the GW bridge - though the Brooklyn Bridge more do. BUT walkers do not primarily think of bridges as being from tower to tower. The skill one might find helpful to develop is the ability to estimate distances in kilometres w/o converting from miles. --JimWae (talk) 20:49, 18 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"the rule-of-thumb "multiply by 8 and divide by 5" gives a conversion of 1.6, which is approximately 0.6% too low."

This must mean 5/8 is part of a continued fraction sequence. What is the next member of this sequence?? Georgia guy (talk) 19:36, 6 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't understand the question, but I will admit to being a Maths teacher. Are you telling us you cannot multiply simple fractions? Maybe you need to give us an example of what it is you would be likely to want to work out. HiLo48 (talk) 21:36, 6 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Why is it neccessary to give algorithms to conmvert miles to kilometres? This article is about kilometres, not miles. Such conversions might be useful in articles on metrication, but not in this article. Martinvl (talk) 21:57, 6 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a reasonable guess by looking at the username that our questioner comes from the USA, although there are other Georgias in the world. I suspect we have a simple case of US-centrism, both with the question and the username. HiLo48 (talk) 23:07, 6 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I know how to multiply fractions. However, to understand my question, you'll have to know what a continued fraction sequence is. Look at the Pi article for some info on one. Georgia guy (talk) 00:06, 7 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, I get you now. No, I've never seen a conversion from metric to US units represented as a continued fraction. People just use as many significant digits in a decimal number as they need for conversion The precise definition of a kilometre is given in the article to nine significant digits. I think that's all there is, so it doesn't go on forever like pi. There is a conversion in the Mile article to seven significant digits. Some hunting might give you a more precise conversion, but it would be rare for it to be practically useful. HiLo48 (talk) 00:46, 7 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Visualisation section[edit]

I really don't get the point of the visualisation section. Perhaps one sentence, if that, could be devoted to a single landmark that is very near to 1km long, high, wide, etc, but even that seems to be a bit pointless.

I'm not sure if the section is just meant to fill space in an article that seems like it should be larger. But some of the statements included in that section are absolutely pointless:

  • "Central Park is the most visited city park in the United States." - that's nice, but does it have anything to do with the unit of measurement?
  • "Hong Kong Harbour boasts one of the busiest waterways in the world. Until 1970 the only way to cross the harbour was the Star Ferry which had terminals on the Kowloon peninsular and the island of Hong Kong itself." - once again, irrelevant.
  • "The Mall, which leads up to Buckingham Palace, is one of London’s main tourist attractions. Immediately in front of the palace is the Victoria Memorial, erected in memory of Queen Victoria (foreground of the picture to the right). At the opposite end is the Admiralty Arch which links The Mall to Trafalgar Square" - ditto.

The only sentence out of the whole section I can see that is remotely relevant to the article is: "The George Washington Bridge in New York (central span 1067 m) was the first bridge in the world to have a span of more than a kilometre..." I'm in favour of getting rid of the whole section. IgnorantArmies?! 11:34, 3 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, thanks for raising this. I've thought that section was a bit odd too, but never got around to saying anything. Now that you have, I'll simply say that I agree completely. HiLo48 (talk) 11:47, 3 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Maybe (some of) it could be moved to 1 kilometre. JIMp talk·cont 16:26, 5 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Many articles on measurement (for example gram) have something about visualisation. Can you suggest something better for this article? If so so, please share your comments, if not, please leave it - it is better than nothing. If you read previous sections on this Talk Page, you will see earlier discussion about visualisation. Martinvl (talk) 16:41, 5 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disagree that "it is better than nothing". Of what use is an example where the reader has never been? For most people, most if not all of the examples will fit that description. HiLo48 (talk) 17:54, 5 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What was the reason for the blanket reversion of 3 edits?[edit]

This blanket reversion of my 3 recent edits (this one, this one, and this one) included the acronym "POBV" in the edit summary. I'm not familiar with that one, can the editor enlighten me please? -- de Facto (talk). 15:04, 10 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"POBV" was a typo - it should have been "POV". Martinvl (talk) 15:09, 10 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, a bad faith knee-jerk edit - or can you rationalise that accusation by explaining the POV aspect you believe to be behind each of the 3 individual edits? -- de Facto (talk). 15:13, 10 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'k' is not slang[edit]

Rather than edit war, we need to discuss this here. 'k' is defined in the free online version of the Oxford Dictionaries as an abbreviation (not slang) for kilometre.[7] Why therefore should it not appear at the start of the lead described as such? -- de Facto (talk). 11:21, 7 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The thing is it is not an "official" symbol for kilometre. It is a common term much like klick but it is still not official. So it is mentioned opening section of the article but not the first paragraph (which is restarted to official symbols, terms and abbreviations). - SimonLyall (talk) 09:26, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We agree that it isn't slang then. I wouldn't say that it's a symbol either - more a synonym. It is commonly used as an alternative for "kilometre". So why can't it be added to the beginning of the lead like this: "The kilometre (American spelling: kilometer) or k (SI symbol: km)..."? -- de Facto (talk). 09:43, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
When I checked your reference, it only memtioned a "10k run". Extracting "k" from that expression is WP:SYN. BTW, "k" does not appear in the OED on its own. Martinvl (talk) 13:25, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You didn't check it very thoroughly then! That reference is the "k" page, with all the different definitions for 'k'. Under the definition as 'kilometre' it gives the example: "a 10K fun run". That it is defined in that dictionary as a kilometre is not OR. -- de Facto (talk). 14:40, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please note that I added the term to the article in the first place (and the references) and that I use it in daily life. I just don't think it is "official" enough. For example from the page would you add "K" in the lead sentence to "Cambodia" or "kindergarten" ? - SimonLyall (talk) 19:00, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It being included in the same sentence as the description of the slang term didn't help. I've at least separated that into two sentences now. However, with 'k' being used interchangably with 'kilometre', I think that it should be put in bold at the start of the first sentence of the lead. It may not be the "official" term as defined by some organisations, but Wikipedia isn't the SI brochure and it isn't a sciece textbook, and should rather reflect common and everyday reality, and not prioritise niche or specialist views. -- de Facto (talk). 09:37, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Visualisation and international usage[edit]

I have reinstated the sections on visualisation and on international usage. I do not think that removing 45% of an article without a discussion is justifiable.

The concept of sections on visualistion is well established in articles on measurement, especially where the unit in question is not one that is used daily by the general population. For example, the article Watt identifies a hearing aid battery as having a power of the order of 1 mW and a suburban train as having a power of about 1 MW. (Did you know this?) It is probable that over 80% of the native English speakers (mainly Britons and American) who read this article have not been brought up with kilometres. The remaining 20% (Australians, Canadians, South Africans etc) are probably familiar with the kilometre. If you look at the examples of "typical kilometres" that were chosen, you will see that they are all prominent landmarks is different continents and, apart from Central Park, are all well within 10% of an actual kilometre. They were chosen in a manner so that readers could identify with at least one of them. (I could have chosen the High Street in the town where I live which is just under a kilometre in length, but I suspect that not many people have heard of the town, let alone be familiar with the High Street).

Finally, given that there is not much that is encyclopeadic about the kilometre (compared to the metre), I see no problem in showing how it comes up in everyday life. Martinvl (talk) 20:15, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gee, I would have thought British folk would have some idea how long a kilometre is, but I'll defer on that point to someone closer to the scene. But anyway, can't we just tell people not familiar with it that it's around 60% or 0.6 of a mile? It would save an awful lot of text. HiLo48 (talk) 23:24, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wrong. 60% is 3/5, not 5/8. 5/8 is 62.5%. Georgia guy (talk) 23:39, 8 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Please note my use of the word "around". This is for visualisation, not precision. HiLo48 (talk) 00:46, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In real life I tutor physics to 17 & 18 year-olds (A Level) on a one-to-oe basis and one thing that comes out time and time again is how unfamiliar students are with what units of measure are like in real life. Anyway, a picture is a lot better than just publishing a conversion factor. Martinvl (talk) 06:58, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please explain to me how a virtual travel guide of distances somewhere around a kilometre long, measured using the Google Earth ruler (!), is relevant to this article. The international usage section, which you also reinstated, though I'm not sure if you realise you did, consists of places where it is not used. This belongs in metrication or the article on the mile. Lots of pretty pictures of things that are almost one kilometre (why not 10 or even 100 kilometres? This is about the unit of measurement not the distance!) are not pertinent to the intended topic of the article. "Its better than nothing" is not a valid argument for keeping this – it may just be that there is not a lot that can be written on this, other than it is a unit of measurement that is equivalent to 1,000 metres. IgnorantArmies 09:14, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I have explained earlier, many measurement articles have sections on visualisation, partciularly if a significant proportion of readers are not familiar with the measurement concerned. In the case of the kilometre, many US and UK readers are not very familiar with the kilometre, but most UK or US readers can identify with one or more of the images shown - after all a picture is worth a thousand words. Australian, Canadian, South African readers are of course familiar with kilometres.
In respect of usage, I think that the picture of the Chinese road sign is appropriate; the UK section brings home that roads are designed using kilometres even if they are signposted in miles. (I think that this is relevant!) I need to revisit the section about US roads.
Martinvl (talk) 10:55, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I can understand one paragraph of well-referenced, notable examples, with one or two pictures, but five different pictures and tourist-y information like "Hong Kong Harbour boasts one of the busiest waterways in the world. Until 1970 the only way to cross the harbour was the Star Ferry which had terminals on the Kowloon peninsular and the island of Hong Kong itself" is not at all relevant to the article. As far as I can find, kilometre is the only measurement article (excluding things like square kilometre and one metre, which are separate, individual lengths, not units) that has a visualisation section. I would suggest that the entire section be moved to one kilometre. IgnorantArmies 11:18, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would be happy to sacrifice (in order) the Central Park reference and then the Star Ferry reference on grounds that we would have one UK-specific picture, one US-specific picture and one picture that takes a work view (maybe change the picture for a non-US bridge, but mention the Washinton Bridge as being the first briodge to span a kilometre). However, I woudl liek to retain at least some of the pictures and text on grounds that these illustrate distances of [about] 1 km whereas one kilometre. is a catalogue of distnaces between 1 km and 10 km.
Regarding the section on international usage - I think that this could be merged int a new section on the history of the kilometre (which would mention an inital preference for the myriametre - I am starting to do a little research on that topic right now.
Martinvl (talk) 11:34, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I like all the visualizations, as they provide different perspectives to those who have seen different things in the world. If there's a separate article, that would be a good place for most of the pictures. But lose the touristy stuff. Make it read more like the Niagara text. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:34, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
How did you like the Bridge text "The central span of the Washington bridge is 1067 m. Other bridges of a similar construction and length include ....". I have in mind the width of the Hudson river in New York and the width of the Mersey in Liverpool (which will be listed with the Hong Kong crossing). Martinvl (talk) 14:23, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sehr gut.Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:33, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think the Central Park visualization (AND common-walkability) are more valuable than the Niagara Falls one. One would have to be at Niagara Falls to figure out exactly which parts of each falls are being used as endpoints - and I've been there. One think I remember most about being at the Falls was how hard it was to estimate the size of anything I was looking at. With Central Park (experienced by far more people every day than probably in a year at the Falls), there are many things visible that are also accessible. Familiarization comes not just from pictures and visualizations, but also by determining how long it takes to walk or run it. --JimWae (talk) 17:07, 9 November 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Equivalence to other units of length[edit]

Current version

Units are given to three significant figures:

Comparison to other units of length
One (1) km ≡ 1.00×103 (1000) m
1.00×105 (100000) cm
One (1) km ≈ 3.24×10−14 parsecs
1.06×10−13 light-years[1]
6.68×10−9 astronomical units[2]
6.21×10−1 (0.621) miles
5.40×10−1 (0.540) nautical miles
1.09×103 (1,094) yards
3.28×103 (3,281) feet
1.61 km≈ One (1) mile
Proposed version

Approximations are given to three significant figures.

1 kilometre 1,000 metres
3,281 feet
1,094 yards
0.621 miles
0.540 nautical miles
6.68×10−9 astronomical units[3]
1.06×10−13 light-years[4]
3.24×10−14 parsecs

I'm proposing a new version of this section.

  • I believe the proposed version is clearer.
  • The table is gone. The use of a table, I believe, obscures the fact that this is a simple multi-line equation.
  • The table title is gone. This was more or less a repetition of the section title (except that equivalence is replaced with comparison).
  • Conversions are arranged so that the units line up. This makes it easier, I think, to find the conversion you're looking for.
  • The non-metric conversions have been sorted in order of increasing length. Again I think this makes it easier to find conversions.
  • The numbers in brackets have been removed (or have replaced the scientific notation). I don't believe that there is anyone unaware that 1 is one (if they are capable of reading English at all) nor is there any use in giving a number both as a plain decimal and in scientific notation.
  • The conversion to centimetres has been removed. Anyone that unfamiliar with the metric system should probably look at different a page.
  • The conversion of the mile into kilometres has been removed. Mile-, nautical-mile-, astronomical-unit-, etc.-to-kilometre conversions can be found on the pages dealing with those units.
  • The word units is replaced with approximations in "Units are given to three significant figures": the units are the metre, mile, the parsec, etc. it is the approximations which are rounded to three sig figs (note that approximations excludes the conversion to metres).
  • "Approximations are given to three significant figures." is a sentence. It should end with a full stop.

JIMp talk·cont 07:47, 5 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I like your new layout a lot. Much nicer. One tiny quibble. 3,281 feet and 1,094 yards are to four significant figures. (I could live with it though.) HiLo48 (talk) 08:04, 5 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I echo HiLo48's view. One small point - since you are lining up decimal points and thousands separators, the use of {{gaps|1|000}} might be worth considering (a thought). Martinvl (talk) 09:06, 5 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Four significant figures, yes, I hadn't noticed that. The simplest solution would probably be just to delete to sentence about sig figs altogether & let any reader who wants to know count them. I'm all for using {{gaps}} but if we use it here, we should use it throughout. JIMp talk·cont 01:13, 6 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I prefer the proposed layout. I also think it would be of value to note that a kilometer was initially intended to be 1/10000th the distance from the North Pole to the Equator. This is mentioned in the article for meter, but not for kilometer. RichBryan (talk) 21:35, 21 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ A light-year is equal to 9460730472580.8 km the distance light travels through vacuum in one year (365.25 days).
  2. ^ One astronomical unit is currently accepted to be equal to 149,597,870,691 ±30 m.
  3. ^ One astronomical unit is currently accepted to be equal to 149,597,870,691 ±30 m.
  4. ^ A light-year is equal to 9460730472580.8 km the distance light travels through vacuum in one year (365.25 days).

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Why kilometre is spelled differentely than kilometer? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:20, 31 December 2017‎ (UTC)Reply[reply]

Try reading the first sentence of the article. You can also read Metre#Spelling. --David Biddulph (talk) 11:27, 31 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Try also the section #Spelling further up this page. --David Biddulph (talk) 11:28, 31 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Official spelling[edit]

@DeFacto: Regarding your revert, the BIPM publishes the official spelling of SI units in English and French. Of these, "kilometre" is the official spelling of the unit. You're confusing common words that are subject to changes in spelling via common usage with words defined in a specification. Getsnoopy (talk) 21:29, 24 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I said in my edit summary, English does not have 'official' spellings, spellings evolve and dictated by common and local usage. BIPM may have their preferred spelling, but that is of no consequence outside of their organisation, and certainly of no consequence to Wikipedia. -- DeFacto (talk). 21:38, 24 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is simply not true. It is not their "preferred" spelling, it's the official spelling as BIPM is the authority on the SI. If the BIPM was of no consequence, then there would be no point for its existence nor for the creation of the SI specification. That's akin to saying the IETF "prefers" to use the HTTP specification in the way that it does, but it doesn't have authority on the matter and its "preference" is of no consequence outside of the organization. Even notwithstanding all of this, "metre" is not merely a British term but a term used by every English-speaking country except for the US. Getsnoopy (talk) 17:31, 25 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Getsnoopy: according to the BIPM it is true. On page 124 of the 9th edition of their brochure (2019) they say "Small spelling variations occur in the language of the English speaking countries (for instance, "metre" and "meter", "litre" and "liter"). In this respect, the English text presented here follows the ISO/IEC 80000 series Quantities and units. However, the symbols for SI units used in this brochure are the same in all languages." If they were trying to assert official spellings for unit names they would have said it there. Furthermore, they clearly explain the third-party reference that they use for their purposes, but do not recommend that others should also use it. So you see, it is only symbols that the BIPM try to control, and not spellings. Or can you provide reliable sources claiming otherwise? And what about other languages? Surely if the BIPM had official spellings in English, they would also have official spellings for other languages too. -- DeFacto (talk).
@DeFacto: Yes, I'm aware of that text, but that's partly my point. The text says that there is no one "correct" spelling (as spelling can vary), but it implies that there is an "official" spelling in that it is the spelling that's exclusively used by the BIPM and ISO, official authorities on the SI. As for endorsing it, I don't have public references I can cite, but I work for the US Metric Association, and I've personally emailed the Director of the BIPM (Martin Milton). He said that the only reason they included that sentence in the brochure was to placate the US. I even asked him to remove that sentence from the brochure since it was unnecessary and confusing, especially since the official spelling is "metre" and "litre". He agreed, only to get back to me a week later saying he couldn't because of political reasons with the US's NIST. I don't know if you could have a more authoritative source than the Director the BIPM himself. As for other languages, it's because the BIPM only publishes the SI brochure in English and French. Getsnoopy (talk) 20:57, 26 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, but without reliable sources to support the assertion that there is an official spelling, we can only assume that there is not, especially as the BIPM seems neutral on it. -- DeFacto (talk). 20:58, 27 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Of course it's the official spelling. Asking for that to be somehow separately sourced is being a little silly. That doesn't mean that everyone will follow the official spelling. HiLo48 (talk) 03:00, 28 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@HiLo48: This. Also, @DeFacto, my point is that if you consider the SI Brochure to be an official document (which it most definitely is), then you have to consider everything in it to be official. By the document's own proclamation that it will use the spelling "metre" and "litre", it's establishing those as the official spelling. Furthermore, the ISO document that it cites is also an official document, which also only uses that spelling. Saying that there is no statement reminding the reader that the document they're reading is indeed official is missing the point. The document acknowledges the existence of other spellings, but it obviously makes clear that it (the official document on everything SI) will use the spelling that it uses. I don't see how much clearer they could've gotten. If they had literally said "this is the official/correct spelling", that would've automatically invalidated "meter" and "liter" as possible variations of the unit names, and this conversation would be moot. Getsnoopy (talk) 03:19, 29 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure where you are trying to get with this. The BIPM brochure is clear that spelling variations exist, and excuse the variant they choose to use in their brochure as being consistent with the one used in an ISO publication. But so what? They never say or imply that any particular spelling is more correct or 'official' than another. I think it's best to avoid implying that either of the common English spellings is 'official' or more correct than another, as each are 'official' in certain specific circumstances anyway. -- DeFacto (talk). 10:15, 29 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm saying exactly that: the fact that the BIPM chose "metre" and "litre" as the official spelling of those units is it establishing that that is the official spelling. This is the same as how "kilogram" is the official spelling of the unit, not "kilogramme" even though the British sometimes use that spelling. Yet, there's usually no discussion on that matter because it's assumed that "kilogram" is the official spelling. These points, combined with the fact that the director of the BIPM personally claimed that the spelling "meter" and "liter" is "deprecated" and should not be encouraged, leaves no room to interpret that the BIPM considers "meter" and "liter" just as official as "metre" and "litre". My point with this whole discussion is to say that portraying the spelling issue as a "British vs. American" issue is not only incomplete, but incorrect. The BIPM officially uses the so-called "British" spelling, therefore that becomes the "international" or "official" spelling, regardless of spelling differences for other words among the dialects of English. As for being official in specific circumstances, if you're referring to NIST using "meter" and "liter" as the "official" spelling, it also acknowledges that "metre" and "litre" are just as valid and legal in the US. Getsnoopy (talk) 19:05, 31 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Getsnoopy: even if all of that personal opinion could be reliably sourced, we still couldn't say that the British spelling was any more 'official' than the American spelling. As we know, there are several spelling variations between the English-speaking nations, and none are any more globally 'official' than any of the others, they are just variants of equal standing. As Wikipedia does not allow OR or the stating of opinion as if fact, you'll need to find a cosensus amongst the reliable sources to support your POV that there is an internationally accepted 'official' spelling here. -- DeFacto (talk). 20:37, 31 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You seem to be missing the fundamental point of the whole discussion. British vs. American vs. Canadian vs. every other kind of spelling is not at discussion here. No one is saying British spelling is more "correct" than American spelling, or vice-versa. The SI is a specification, and is therefore independent of all spelling issues. It dictates that the spelling is "metre" and "litre" in the English language, and so it is, officially speaking. Countries and people can choose not to follow that standard, but that doesn't make it any less true. Nobody is saying that the spelling "meter" and "liter" is incorrect, but that it is unofficial (by the mere fact that the BIPM doesn't use it in any of its official publications). There are no sources needed to verify this other than the SI brochure itself and maybe its website. I don't know how else to phrase this, and I don't know why we're arguing about facts. My mention about what the director of the BIPM said merely corroborates my position in this discussion; I'm not trying to cite that in the article, for example. Getsnoopy (talk) 23:55, 31 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The SI do not specify unit spellings - or they would say so in their literature. To assert that one particular spelling is 'official' because it has been chosen for use in a particular publication is pure OR. Without reliable sources that support it, we cannot support this interpretation, and this discussion cannot make any further progress. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:22, 1 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm curious to know what you consider to be official in the general sense. Because from what I've gathered so far, it seems that according to you, "kg" is not the official symbol for kilogram, for example, even though the BIPM says that it is in its official SI brochure, and it is the official body on everything SI-related. Nevertheless, here are some reliable sources:
  • [8]
  • The officially recommended spelling is "metre". However, many SI supporters in this country prefer "meter", which we adopt. We will also use "liter" in preference to the recommended "litre".

    — Resnick R., Halliday D. (1977), Physics, Part 1 (third edition). John Wiley & sons, p. 5
Getsnoopy (talk) 03:10, 6 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Getsnoopy: "official" means santioned by some specific empowered authority. But as no-one is empowered to control or regulate the English language in any way, there are no 'official' spellings, abbreviations, acronyms, or whatever - they all evolve over time and as they become normal or common usage they enter into the lexicon. Sure some organisations have their own preferred spellings, abbreviations, acronyms, or whatever, which it might be appropriate to mention in articls about those specific organisations, but those organisations are not empowered to insist that their preferences prevail in the world outside of their organisation. And sure, "kg" is the standard and generally accepted "symbol" for the kilogram - and I have never questioned that, in the same way that "Fe" is the standard and generally accepted symbol for the chemical element iron, but we don't say that "Fe" is the 'official' symbol for iron, just that it is its symbol. And I think you need to re-read WP:RS if you think that the self-published work of a single-issue pressure group is in any way a "reliable source" when it comes to facts about the issue they are pushing. -- DeFacto (talk). 07:39, 6 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@DeFacto: I think you keep missing the fundamental point: the SI is outside of any one language; it's a specification. The English language would not (and does not) have the concepts of metre, litre, candela, ampere, etc. if not for the SI; those concepts would literally not exist otherwise. And the SI (which is published and controlled by the BIPM) is the authority on all things SI-related, not English-language-related; most countries of the world have signed agreements to that effect. And yes, despite all of this, there is no "correct" way as far as language is concerned since language is guided by common use. But that's also not the point: there's what is official and there's what is correct; the former is determined by what official authorities are doing, and the latter is determined by common use (at least when it comes to matters of language). And to say that "Fe" is not the official symbol for iron is frankly ridiculous; the IUPAC determines the symbols and names for all things chemical. Regarding WP:RS, I'm sure that a fact-based group working directly with organizations like NIST and BIPM to help set guidelines and policies is tantamount to a "single-issue pressure group" who self-publishes (which is a weak, red-herring argument) unreliable claims. But anticipating that response, I also included a physics textbook which doesn't fit your "self-published" or "pressure group" claims, but I see that you've conveniently ignored that source as well. Getsnoopy (talk) 09:22, 6 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Getsnoopy: the "SI" responsibilities concern unit definitions and symbols, yes, but not the words - their spellings or abbreviations - used to name units in the multitude of languages and their variants, used worldwide - or do you have an RS claiming otherwise? If you think the BIPM invented all the unit names, take the word "kilometer" for instance, according to the OED (the world authority on the English language), that word (with that spelling), was in use in England to mean 1000 meters by 1810, some 150 years before the SI was invented and 65 years before the BIPM was created, and the spelling "kilometre" by 1868. And no, the OED does not recognise the notion of 'official' spellings or abbreviations, just establised ones, which include "kilometre", "kilometer" and "K/k".
Also, I did not say 'that "Fe" is not the official symbol for iron', what I did say was '..."Fe" is the standard and generally accepted symbol for the chemical element iron, but we don't say that "Fe" is the 'official' symbol for iron...'. The same goes for "km" it is the symbol for kilometre, and that is beyond dispute. We shouldn't say "km" is the 'official' symbol for "kilometre" any more than we would say "Fe" is the 'official' symbol for iron, or "sun" is the 'official name for the sun - it would be applying a redundant adjective, even a peacock term, and trying to give false authority and weight to it.
Where did you add the reference to "a physics textbook"? -- DeFacto (talk). 11:56, 6 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@DeFacto: I feel like you're supporting my arguments with your reply. The words are at the very least official in French, and that can be corroborated by the SI brochure itself, so the idea that the BIPM isn't concerned with spellings is false. The other point is that you yourself said that it has certain responsibilities and dictates unit definitions and symbols, which means it has authority. I've been claiming exactly the same thing, which is that it does have authority because it's the entity tasked with regulating/maintaining the SI. As such, that same authority also translated the French text into English, and claimed that it would exclusively use a certain spelling. If you believe the BIPM is an official entity, then you must believe that what it publishes is official material simply by deduction. And if it publishes official material, then the contents of said material are official, one of which is the spelling. You're arguing that it merely says that it uses ISO spelling, but that's besides the point (ignoring the fact that ISO itself is an official body); the BIPM chose to spell things a certain way, and the fact that it published said choices makes it official. It does clear the air that there is no "correct" spelling, but I'm not disagreeing with that.

I never said the BIPM invented all those words; I said that the SI did. And I'm sure you know that the SI (International System of Units; the modern metric system) is a continuation of the former, original metric system (which was not necessarily codified); were it not for that, those words wouldn't exist in the English language. The OED lists that word as "killometer", not "kilometer", and it also lists the word "metre" (with that spelling) being used in 1797 to mean the unit of length; I don't know that that's relevant, however, given my point above.

Regarding official symbols: is the symbol for kilometre, and that is beyond dispute. Why? How? Who determines if it's the symbol vs. a symbol? Or even that it is a symbol instead of an abbreviation? Because apparently, according to you, there is no such thing as official and there are no authorities on anything English-related. And you said, "Fe" is the standard ... symbol; you're ok with using the word "standard" then? Saying something is redundant (tautologically) implies that the redundancy is assumed to be true; if saying km is the "official" symbol for kilometre is redundant, then it must be assumed that it already is official. I would actually agree with you that saying "Sun" is the "official" name of the Sun is problematic, but that's understandable because there's no BIPM equivalent in the astronomical domain. The textbook source is right underneath the USMA one; I've made it into a list to make it clear. Getsnoopy (talk) 02:13, 7 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Getsnoopy: despite being the authority responsible for the SI standard unit definitions and the maintenance of the list of standard SI symbols, the BIPM do not have jurisdiction over spellings in English, so anything you claim about their role with respect to spellings in other languages is moot. Their choice of spellings for specific English words in their texts has no bearing outside of those texts, except perhaps providing the seed for any new words they coin - that is how the English language works.
I'm sure you appreciate that "abbreviations" and "symbols" are different things, and that the BIPM are charged with maintaining the list of standard SI symbols. As far as I know (as with chemical element symbols) there are no competing symbols for the SI units, which is why the BIPM ones are the standard symbols. On the other hand, abbreviations are exactly that, and can be "invented" by anyone. Is "wrt" an official, or unofficial abbreviation for "with respect to"? Is "omg" official, or not? What about "U.S.A."? They, along with "K" and "k" are all listed in the OED as abbreviations, with no mention of them being official, or otherwise. Interestingly, "BIPM" is not listed, although "SI" is. So, perhaps, we should only say that abbreviations are "official", if they are listed in the OED?
Thanks for pointing out the book reference, but I notice that by the 5th edition that claim has been dropped. And even the USMA page makes it clear that "In a strict sense, spelling and pronunciation are matters of language and are not set by the international standards that define SI." -- DeFacto (talk). 10:10, 7 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@DeFacto: I think you seem to be contradicting yourself; it would be able to coin those "seed" words only if it was in a position of authority, which it is—specifically, in the domain of SI. And the OED lists everything that the BIPM lists as symbols as abbreviations. So how was the BIPM "charged" with said responsibilities if, according to you, no one can be charged of anything when it comes to the English language? Or any language for that matter? You seem to be suggesting that the OED is an authority on the English language, yet also simultaneously suggesting that no one or entity can be an authority on the English language. I'm at least being consistent in that OED documents common use, which is why one cannot say that "wrt" is the official abbreviation for "with respect to", for example, because there's no such thing when it comes to common use or the English language itself. But the SI and BIPM exist in a space completely independent of and orthogonal to common use; they're a specification and an official body respectively. You seem to be arguing relativistically in some attempt to be neutral, only to find that that position fails when describing how the SI/BIPM works with respect to languages.

The claim being "dropped" is not evidence of it not being true anymore. That statement by the USMA is just a rehashing of the statement from the SI brochure: that there is no correct spelling, but that there is one that will be used by the official body; hence, official. And it seems ironic to me that you're quoting the same institution that is supposedly "a single-issue pressure group" that is not "in any way a 'reliable source' when it comes to facts about the issue they are pushing", especially when the same source also says that the -re spellings are official, even though they might not be the only correct spellings. Getsnoopy (talk) 21:59, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Getsnoopy: the OED only documents the language, they don't create words. Words are created in all sorts of ways and by all sorts of people, no special "authority" is required to create them. Then if and when the OED consider them to be in regular use, they document them. Have you come across the word "Brexit"? It's a new word coined in the last few years, by a journalist probably, and is now in the dictionaries. The BIPM have occasionally created a new unit name, and once it enters the literature the OED pick it up, and add it to the lexicon. If one of the new words, "kilogram" for example, is abbreviated to "k" often enough (as it obviously has been), then the OED will pick that up, and add it too. Once a word has been released into the 'wild', the originator has no control over how its spelling evolves, or how it is abbreviated or otherwise adapted in common usage, and to pretend otherwise is futile, as the authors of the physics textbook presumably realised too. The SI symbols are a different case, they are like mathematical symbols or chemical element symbols, and come with a usage discipline and convention which is maintained by the BIPM, but is not compulsory for everyday English usage, although it may be required in certain circumstances, such as by the publishers of scientific and technical papers. -- DeFacto (talk). 22:41, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@DeFacto: Agreed with all that. But that doesn't mean that BIPM doesn't use said spelling in said document, which is official, and pretending otherwise is similarly futile. Whether people want to follow it or not is another matter, but the BIPM always has and presumably always will use "metre" and "litre" as the spelling of those words, and it is an official body. There's nothing wrong in stating those facts. Getsnoopy (talk) 23:11, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

K or k is unofficial[edit]

@DeFacto: "K" or "k" simply means kilo-, or 1000; it can be 1000 of anything. Yet, you now seem to have a problem with the claim "k" or "K" as an abbreviation specifically for kilometre(s) is unofficial. What is your reasoning here? Getsnoopy (talk) 08:55, 6 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Getsnoopy: those abbreviations are in common use and are defined in the OED. They are neither 'official' or 'unofficial", they are just abbreviations that have entered the lexicon. To suggest that they are 'unofficial' is, at best, to misunderstand the way the English language works and evolves. -- DeFacto (talk). 12:10, 6 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@DeFacto: "k" as an abbreviation to represent the kilometre specifically is not part of the SI; hence, unofficial. This has nothing to do with the English language or its evolution, but the SI specification. Unless you have a better word to describe that idea, unofficial is the correct one as far as I can tell. Getsnoopy (talk) 00:29, 7 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Getsnoopy: this article is not about the style guide of the SI or BIPM. This article is about the unit of length named "kilometer" or "kilometre" in English, commonly abbreviated as "K" or "k", and with the SI symbol "km". Sure we can have a section in the article about compliance with the BIPM's recommendations which "supports the readability of scientific and technical papers", but we mustn't imply they have any greater role than that, or lose sight of the fact that Wikipedia is, first and foremost, a general purpose encyclopaedia, and not an arm of the BIPM and not a physics textbook. -- DeFacto (talk). 09:08, 7 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@DeFacto: So you'd be OK with saying that those abbreviations are "non-standard" or "incompatible with the SI"? The WP:NOTTEXTBOOK guidelines have to do with content structure, not the idea of presenting facts as they are. And the fact of the matter is that using "k" or "K" for kilometre is unofficial, non-standard, and informal. However we want to word that, though, is another matter. Getsnoopy (talk) 21:32, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Getsnoopy: well, they are standard abbreviations, they're in the dictionaries. So I'd word it something like: "The abbreviations k or K (pronounced /keɪ/) are used to represent kilometre, but are not recommended by the BIPM for use in scientific and technical papers. -- DeFacto (talk). 22:11, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@DeFacto: The point isn't about scientific and technical papers; the SI isn't only invoked in those context nor does it serve only those purposes. The literal motto of the SI is A tous les peuples, A tous les temps (lit.''For all people, For all time''); it applies everywhere where those units are used. So I can change it to The abbreviations k or K (pronounced /keɪ/) are informally used to represent the kilometre, but are not recommended by the BIPM. Getsnoopy (talk) 22:23, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Getsnoopy: sure the units are for use by everyone, but that doesn't mean everyone will stick to the BIPM rules for writing scientific and technical papers when they use them, and the OED, and other dictionaries, will carry on documenting how they ae used in the real world - regardless of the views of USMA. The use of abbreviations is not only done "informally", or the OED would say so, so that shouldn't be said. -- DeFacto (talk). 22:47, 8 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]