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    Updated on May 13, 2020. Posted on Aug 29, 2011

    The Funniest Old English Measurements

    It's no secret that the English language has some pretty fantastic old-timey words, but you probably don't know most of these. Find out what the world was like when it was divided up into barleycorns, knight's fees, and hogsheads.

    1. Barleycorn


    The length of one corn of barley, where three corns was about one inch.

    2. Poppyseed


    1/4 of a barleycorn.

    3. Finger


    7/8 of an inch.

    4. Nail


    2 1/4 inches.

    5. Palm


    Traditionally the length of a palm with the thumb tucked in, or about 3 inches.

    6. Shaftment


    Width of the hand with outstretched thumb, 6 1/2 inches before the year 1066, 6 inches thereafter.

    7. Rod


    Usually a measurement of land, 16 1/2 feet.

    8. Chain


    Four linear rods.

    9. League


    About 3 miles, intended to be a one-hour walk.

    10. Knight's Fee


    A somewhat arbitrary amount of land that a knight would need to sustain not only himself, but his esquires, horses, equipment, and supplies in times of war.

    11. Mouthful


    1/2 of a fluid ounce.

    12. Pony


    Two mouthfuls, or 1 fluid ounce. Also known as a shot.

    13. Hogshead


    Large barrels typically for storing alcohol, a hogshead of wine is equivalent to 63 US gallons, while a hogshead of beer is 54 gallons.

    14. Butt


    Two hogsheads, or about 128 gallons.

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