Definition of the imperial system from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


the imperial system

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CultureThe imperial system is the traditional system of weights and measures in Britain, which is gradually being replaced by the metric system. Customary measure used in the US is similar to the imperial system with a few slight differences. Although most imperial measures have now gone out of use in Britain, many older British people still think of things in terms of the old system. The only imperial measure still widely used officially in the UK is the mile, which is used on road signs. In the US, customary units, also called standard units, are still used and the metric system is only used in scientific research.Length is measured in yards, feet and inches, and many people know their height in feet and inches. Weight is measured in pounds and ounces, although many British people say their own weight in stones (a stone is 14 pounds) and pounds. Larger quantities are weighed in hundredweight and tons, the exact sizes of which are slightly different in the UK and US. Volume is measured in pints and gallons, with a US gallon being slightly smaller than a UK gallon. In Britain, pints are still used to measure beer in pubs. The imperial unit of area is the acre, an Old English word meaning field, which equals 4 840 square yards and it is still often preferred to the metric hectare. Weather forecasters in Britain now describe temperature in degrees Celsius or Centigrade, but they sometimes convert it to the Fahrenheit scale, in which freezing point is 32° and boiling point 212°, for older people. Fahrenheit is still used in the US.