12 Words We Didn't Realize Actually Had Specific Measurements
Vote up the most surprising actual measurements.
The metric system introduced the world to a simple, standardized way of measuring most everyday things. In some countries, the adoption of the system has been mixed or outright resisted. Then there are circumstances that require a very specific unit of measurement that can't easily be covered by metric, imperial, or other conventional measurements.
From the distance reindeer can walk before needing to pee, to just how much a buttload really is, this collection looks at what the specific dimensions of some of the world's funniest and most unusual measurements actually are, or what they were before their meanings changed over time.
- Photo: Julie Anne Workman / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.01116 VOTES
What it measures: Time
Specific measurement: 10 nanoseconds (0.00000001 seconds)
To do something in “two shakes of a lamb's tail” is to do it incredibly quickly, but if you want to be incredibly pedantic (and who doesn't?), a shake doesn't refer to the wiggles of the derriere of a baby sheep. Instead, it describes chain reactions in nuclear physics. The cute idiom was simply used for security purposes.
- Photo: Grolltech / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.02113 VOTES
What it measures: Liquid volume
Specific measurement: 130 gallons
A buttload is a way of saying a great quantity of something. It has nothing to do with one's rear end; it's actually a type of English wine cask that equals two hogsheads, or 130 US gallons. If you tried to drink a buttload of wine, you would be very, very dead.
As for how much a buttload of money is, that obviously depends on the denomination of the bills stuffed inside the butt (remember, we're talking about a barrel here). Let's go with $100 bills in this example. If a 5-gallon jug could hold a value of $980,000, then scientifically speaking, a buttload of money is $25,480,000.
- Photo: Jeepika / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 3.03109 VOTES
What it measures: Time
Specific measurement: 90 seconds
The concept of a moment stretches back to medieval times, referring to the movement of a shadow on a sundial: 1/40 of an hour, or 90 seconds. Of course, the modern meaning of “a moment” has evolved along with our ability to track time more accurately.
- Photo: Shrek / Dreamworks474 VOTES
What it measures: Power output
Specific measurement: 250 watts
Donkey power is an engineering term used to describe a smaller unit of measurement than horsepower. In this case, it's simply 1/3 horsepower (c. 750 watts), which equates to 250 watts.
- Photo: Georg Cöler / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain570 VOTES
A Ba' Hair
What it measures: Distance, used to denote something extremely close
Specific measurement: 100 µm (0.1 mm / 0.0039 inches)
This delightfully coarse Scottish phrase is used in a humorous way to describe something very close, as in “that bus missed ye by a ba' hair.” In the most literal sense, it refers to the width of a single pubic hair - basically a Scottish, and therefore funnier - way of saying “a hair’s breadth.”
Pubic hair is thicker than other types of hair, so technically speaking, the Scots phrase offers a little more wiggle room than its more polite variant.
- Photo: Arkrishna / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain690 VOTES
What it measures: Volume
Specific measurement: 1/32 of a teaspoon (0.156 grams or 0.0055 ounces)
Like a pinch, a smidgen is a seemingly vague, tiny measurement that truly does have a specific value. It's half a pinch: 1/32 of a teaspoon.