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Origin of the Term Acre

Date: 03/10/2002 at 14:19:28
From: Hal Sandick
Subject: Origin of term acre

A student asked what is the origin of the acre measurement. The 
current definition of 43,560 square feet or 208.5 squared does not 
seem to have a "natural" origin.


Hal Sandick

Date: 03/10/2002 at 14:54:43
From: Doctor Sarah
Subject: Re: Origin of term acre

Hi Hal - thanks for writing to Dr. Math.

See Russ Rowlett's _How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement_:   

acre (ac or A)
     a unit of area used for measuring real estate in 
     English-speaking countries. "Acre" is an Old English 
     word meaning a field. The acre was originally defined 
     as the area that could be plowed in a day by a yoke 
     of oxen. It was in use in England at least as early 
     as the eighth century, and by the end of the ninth 
     century it was generally understood to be the area of 
     a field one furlong (40 rods or 10 chains) long by 
     4 rods (or 1 chain) wide. Thus an acre is 10 square 
     chains, 160 square rods, 43 560 square feet or 4840 
     square yards. There are exactly 640 acres in a square 
     mile. In metric countries the unit corresponding to 
     the acre is the hectare, which is 10,000 square meters 
     (the area of a square 100 meters on each side). One 
     acre is equal to 0.404 687 3 hectare. Among traditional 
     European land area units, the acre is typical in being 
     defined as a day's work but unusual in not being 
     visualized as the area of a square. Similar units 
     include the French journal, north German and Dutch 
     morgen, south German and Swiss juchart, Austrian joch, 
     and Czech jitro.

- Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum   
Associated Topics:
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Terms/Units of Measurement

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