Comparison of 1 Acre with some Imperial and
metric units of area (detailed view)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The acre is a unit of area used in the imperial and U.S. customary
systems. An acre is about 40% of a hectare – slightly smaller than an
American football field. The acre is no longer commonly used in most
countries, although a few notable exceptions include the United States,
Australia, India, Pakistan, Burma and the United Kingdom (as of 2010,
the acre is no longer officially used in the United Kingdom, though is still
used in real estate descriptions). It is still used, to some extent, in
The international symbol of the acre is ac, and is defined as 1/640 of a
square mile. The most commonly used acre today is the international
acre. In the United States both the international acre and the slightly
different US survey acre are in use. The most common use of the acre is
to measure tracts of land. One international acre is defined as exactly
4046.8564224 square metres.
During the Middle Ages, an acre was the amount of land that could be
plowed in one day with a yoke of oxen and measured by one chain in
width (22 yards), and one furlong, or 10 chains in length (220 yards),
yielding 4840 square yards.
2 Differences between international and U.S. survey acres
3 South Asia
4 Equivalence to other units of area
5 Historical origin
6 Other acres
7 See also
9 External links
One acre equals 0.0015625 square miles, 4,840 square yards, 43,560 square feet or about 4,047 square metres
(0.405 hectares) (see below). While all modern variants of the acre contain 4,840 square yards, there are alternative definitions
of a yard, so the exact size of an acre depends on which yard it is based on. Originally, an acre was understood as a selion of
land sized at forty perches (660 ft) long and four perches (66 ft) wide; this may have also been understood as an
approximation of the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plough in one day. A square enclosing one acre is approximately
69.57 yards, or 208 feet 9 inches (63.63 metres) on a side. As a unit of measure, an acre has no prescribed shape; any area of
43,560 square feet is an acre.
The acre is often used to express areas of land in the United States, Canada, and in countries where the Imperial System is still
in use. As of 2010, the acre is not used officially in the United Kingdom but is still often seen on estate agents' boards. In the
metric system, the hectare is commonly used for the same purpose. An acre is about 40% of a hectare.
Differences between international and U.S. survey acres
In the international yard and pound agreement of 1959 the United States and five countries of the Commonwealth of Nations
defined the length of the international yard to be exactly 0.9144 metres. Consequently, the international acre is exactly
4,046.8564224 square metres.
Both the international acre and the U.S. survey acre contain 1/640 of a square mile or 4,840 square yards, but there are
alternative definitions of a yard (see survey foot and survey yard), so the exact size of an acre depends on which yard it is
based on. The U.S. survey acre is about 4,046.872 609 874 252 square metres; its exact value (404613,525,426
15,499,969 m2) is based
on an inch defined by 1 metre = 39.37 inches exactly, as established by the Mendenhall Order. Surveyors in the United States
use both international and survey feet, and consequently, both varieties of acre.
Since the difference between the U.S. survey acre and international acre is only about a quarter of the size of an A4 sheet of
paper (0.016 square metres, 160 square centimetres or 24.8 square inches), it is usually not important which one is being
discussed. Areas are seldom measured with sufficient accuracy for the different definitions to be detectable.
In India, especially in South India, residential plots are measured in cents or decimel, which is one hundredth of an acre, or
435.60 square feet (40.469 m2). In Sri Lanka the division of an acre into 160 perches or 4 roods is common.
Equivalence to other units of area
1 international acre is equal to the following metric units:
4,046.8564224 square metres
0.40468564224 hectare (A square with 100 m sides has an area of 1 hectare.)
1 United States survey acre is equal to:
4,046.87261 square metres
1 acre (both variants) is equal to the following customary units:
66 feet × 660 feet (43,560 square feet)
10 square chains (1 chain = 66 feet = 22 yards = 4 rods = 100 links)
1 acre is approximately 208.71 feet × 208.71 feet (a square)
4,840 square yards
43,560 square feet
160 perches. A perch is equal to a square rod (1 square rod is 0.00625 acre)
A furlong by a chain (furlong 220 yards, chain 22 yards)
40 rods by 4 rods, 160 rods2 (historically fencing was often sold in 40 rod lengths)
1⁄640 (0.0015625) square mile (1 square mile is equal to 640 acres)
The area of one acre (red) superposed on an American football field
(green) and association football (soccer) pitch (blue).
Perhaps the easiest way for U.S residents to envisage an acre is as a rectangle measuring 88 yards by 55 yards (1⁄10 of 880
yards by 1⁄16 of 880 yards), about 9⁄10 the size of a standard American football field.
To be more exact, one acre is 90.75 percent of a
100 yards (91.44 metres) long by 53.33 yards (48.76
metres) wide American football field (without the end
zones). The full field, including the end zones, covers
approximately 1.32 acres (0.53 ha).
For residents of other countries, the acre might be
envisaged as approximately 56.68 percent of a
105 metres (344.49 feet) long by 68 metres (223.10
feet) wide association football (soccer) pitch.
It may also be remembered as 44,000 square feet,
The word acre is derived from Old English æcer originally meaning "open field", cognate to west coast Norwegian ækre and
Swedish åker, German Acker, Dutch akker, Latin ager, and Greek αγρός (agros). In English it was historically spelt aker.
The acre was approximately the amount of land tillable by a yoke of oxen in one day. This explains one definition as the area
of a rectangle with sides of length one chain and one furlong. A long narrow strip of land is more efficient to plough than a
square plot, since the plough does not have to be turned so often. The word "furlong" itself derives from the fact that it is one
Before the enactment of the metric system, many countries in Europe used their own official acres. These were differently sized
in different countries, for instance, the historical French acre was 4,221 square metres, whereas in Germany as many variants of
"acre" existed as there were German states.
Statutory values for the acre were enacted in England, and, subsequently, the United Kingdom, by acts of:
George IV and
Queen Victoria – the British Weights and Measures Act of 1878 defined it as containing 4,840 square yards.
Historically, the size of farms and landed estates in the United Kingdom was usually expressed in acres (or acres, roods, and
perches), even if the number of acres was so large that it might conveniently have been expressed in square miles. For example,
a certain landowner might have been said to own 32,000 acres of land, not 50 square miles of land.
The acre is related to the square mile, with 640 acres making up one square mile. One mile is 5280 feet (1760 yards). In
western Canada and the western United States, divisions of land area were typically based on the square mile, and fractions
thereof. If the square mile is divided into quarters, each quarter has a side length of 1⁄2mile (880 yards) and is 1⁄4 square mile in
area, or 160 acres. These subunits would typically then again be divided into quarters, with each side being 1⁄4 mile long, and
being 1⁄16of a square mile in area, or 40 acres. In the United States, farmland was typically divided as such, and the phrase "the
back 40" would refer to the 40 acre parcel to the back of the farm. Most of the Canadian Prairie Provinces and the US
midwest is on square mile grids for surveying purposes.
Farm-derived units of measurement:
1. The rod is a historical unit of length equal to 5½ yards. It may
have originated from the typical length of a mediaeval ox-goad.
2. The furlong (meaning furrow length) was the distance a team
of oxen could plough without resting. This was standardised
to be exactly 40 rods.
3. An acre was the amount of land tillable by one man behind
one ox in one day. Traditional acres were long and narrow due
to the difficulty in turning the plough.
4. An oxgang was the amount of land tillable by one ox in a
ploughing season. This could vary from village to village, but
was typically around 15 acres.
5. A virgate was the amount of land tillable by two oxen in a
6. A carucate was the amount of land tillable by a team of eight
oxen in a ploughing season. This was equal to 8 oxgangs or 4
Customary acre - The customary acre was a
measure of roughly similar size to the acre
described above, but it was subject to
considerable local variation similar to the
variation found in carucates, virgates, bovates,
nooks, and farundels. However, there were
more ancient measures that were also
farthingales. These may have been multiples of
the customary acre, rather than the statute acre.
Builder's acre - In U.S. construction and real
estate development, an area of 40,000 square
feet. Used to simplify math and for marketing, it
is nearly 10% smaller than a survey acre.
Scottish acre, one of a number of obsolete
Scottish units of measurement
Irish acre = 7,840 square yards
Cheshire acre = 10,240 square yards
Roman acre = 1,260 square metres
God's Acre – a synonym for a churchyard.
The Byzantine zeugarion was also based on the
area of farmland which could be ploughed by a
pair (zeugos) of oxen; this was adopted as the
Ottoman "çift" (also meaning "pair").
Conversion of units
Spanish customary units
French arpent—also used in Louisiana as length
and area unit of measure
a Morgen ("morning") of land is usually set at 2⁄3 of a Tagwerk ("day work") of ploughing with an ox
Section (United States land surveying)
Public Land Survey System
1. ^ National Institute of Standards and Technology (n.d.) General Tables of Units of Measurement
2. ^ Klein, Herbert Arthur. The Science of Measurement: A Historical Survey. Dover Publications, 1988. Print. p. 76
3. ^ National Bureau of Standards. (1959). Refinement of Values for the Yard and the Pound
4. ^ National Geodetic Survey, (January 1991), "Policy of the National Geodetic Survey Concerning Units of Measure for the
State Plane Coordinate System of 1983 (http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/INFO/Policy/st_plane.html).
5. ^ Minimum Standard Detail Requirements For ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys
). Federick, MD: American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. 2011. [The standard uses "precision" in a sense more
typically used for "accuracy"; the stated maximum allowable "precision" (page 3) is 2 cm and 50 parts per million. An
instrument consistently measuring 2 cm short would measure the area of a one international acre square, 63.614907 m on a
side, as 4044.3 square metres, 2.6 square metres less than the true value, a far greater discrepancy than the difference between
the international and survey acres.]
6. ^ "acre, n.2". OED Online. September 2011. Oxford University Press. (accessed November 15, 2012).
7. ^ Holland, Robert. (1886). A glossary of words used in the County of Chester.
(http://www.archive.org/details/glossaryofwordsu16holluoft) London: Trübner for the English Dialect Society. p. 3.
8. ^ The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. (http://lochindaal.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~mb/cgi-
9. ^ Malcolm, Noel (1999). Kosovo: A Short History. Harper Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-097775-7.
The Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 (United Kingdom)
Cockeyed.com presents "How much is inside an acre?" (http://cockeyed.com/inside/acre/acre.html)
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Categories: Customary units of measurement in the United States Imperial units Real estate Units of area Surveying
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