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036175 5 furlong.jpg
The 5-furlong (1,006 m) post on Epsom Downs
General information
Unit systemimperial/US units
Unit oflength
1 furlong in ...... is equal to ...
   imperial/US units   220 yd
   metric (SI) units   201.1680 m

A furlong is a unit for measuring distance. It is part of the Imperial and United States customary systems. It is equal to 660 feet or 201.168 metres. There are eight furlongs in a mile.

History[change | change source]

The English first used the furlong in the 9th century or before. The word "furlong" comes from Old English words furh ("furrow") and lang ("long"). Originally it was the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field. An acre is an area that is one furlong long and one chain wide. For this reason, the furlong was once also called an acre's length. Around the year 1300, England standardised the furlong as 40 rods or 660 feet.

The length of the furlong was standardised between South Africa, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada , New Zealand and the United States in the International Pound and Yard Agreement.

The Furlong was abolished for official use in the UK in 1985. However, it is still uncommonly seen on road signs in villages, along with miles and chains. The same also applies in Burma.

Distances for horse races in the UK, Ireland, the U.S. and Canada are still given in miles and furlongs. It is also used in the railway industry in the UK. Otherwise the unit is not used much. It is considered an archaic unit.

Proverb furlongs per fortnight means to express something in as obscure and little-used units as possible. (A fortnight is two weeks, or 14 days). The proverb itself means speed, and is the same as 0.000166309524 m/s or 0.17 mm/s.

Length[change | change source]

Feet Yard Chain Furlong Mile Metres
660 220 10 1 18 201.168