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#1
06-11-2003, 07:25 PM
 mobo85 Guest Join Date: Oct 2000 Location: Bloomingdale, NJ Posts: 9,387
British weight: what does "st" mean?

In the book James Bond: The Legacy, it is quoted that they wanted the first actor who played Bond (which, of course, became Sean Connery) to be "about 12st." What does "st." mean, and what is 1st. equal to in kilograms (UK) and pounds (US).
#2
06-11-2003, 07:29 PM
 sailor Registered User Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: Washington dc Posts: 16,441
a traditional British unit of weight, rarely used in the U.S.
Quote:
 http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/dictS.html#stone Originally the stone varied in size, both from place to place and according to the nature of the item being weighed. A stone of sugar was traditionally 8 pounds, while a stone of wool could be as much as 24 pounds. Eventually the stone was standardized at 14 pounds avoirdupois or approximately 6.350 29 kilograms -- a convenient size because it makes the stone equal to exactly 1/2 quarter or 1/8 hundredweight. Today the stone is used mostly for stating the weight of persons or animals. No -s is added for the plural.
#3
06-11-2003, 07:29 PM
 JXJohns Guest Join Date: Mar 2003 Location: Middle of the Midwest Posts: 2,315
ST = Stone

A stone is a measurement of weight

One stone weighs 14 pounds.

14 pounds equals 30.8 kilograms
#4
06-11-2003, 07:30 PM
 Sunspace Charter Member Join Date: Jun 1999 Location: Near the GT eeehhhh... Posts: 27,416
One 'st' is one 'stone', and equals 14 pounds (around 7 kg). Why the Brits use this unit of measurement, I have no idea.
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#5
06-11-2003, 07:30 PM
 Shade Guest Join Date: Oct 2001 Location: Cambridge. No, the UK one Posts: 4,272
Stone, equal to 14 pounds. IIRC 1kg=2.2pounds. You can do the maths yourself

BTW I'm british, and young, and everyone I know quotes weight in stones and pounds, not pounds or kilograms.
#6
06-11-2003, 07:33 PM
 Blake Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Posts: 11,049
stone
1 kilogram = 0.158 stone or about 14 lb to the stone.

12 st = 76 kg or 168 lb.
#7
06-11-2003, 07:37 PM
 sailor Registered User Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: Washington dc Posts: 16,441
Quote:
 Originally posted by JXJohns 14 pounds equals 30.8 kilograms
Not really. 14 pounds equals 6.35 Kg. Otherwise they were looking for an actor who weighed 370 Kg
#8
06-11-2003, 07:38 PM
 mobo85 Guest Join Date: Oct 2000 Location: Bloomingdale, NJ Posts: 9,387
Thanks for the input.
#9
06-11-2003, 07:58 PM
 sailor Registered User Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: Washington dc Posts: 16,441
Quote:
 Originally posted by Blake 1 kilogram = 0.158 stone
I believe this is wrong
Quote:
 or about 14 lb to the stone.
I believe this is wrong too. I believe one stone is defined as 14 lb *exactly* and the pound in turn is defined as exactly 453.59237 grams which would make one stone approximately 6.35 Kg or 1 Kg *approximately* 0.157473 stone.
#10
06-11-2003, 08:06 PM
 amarone Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Atlanta, GA Posts: 4,849
I saw a documentary about Al Capone on the History Channel. It included some clips in black and white that I think were shot in the 50s. They gave the weight of his armored car in stones - not pounds. That suggests that at some time in the fairly recent past the stone was a commonly used unit of weight in the US also.
#11
06-11-2003, 08:22 PM
 Blake Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Posts: 11,049
OK Sailor, so 1 kg is app .157473 stone. Or .1575 st to 4 places. Or .158 st to 3 places.

What is it you believe is wrong again?

I've seen some nitpicking in my time, but saying that something is wrong because the working hasn't been rounded to sufficent decimal places for your liking takes the cake.
#12
06-11-2003, 08:26 PM
 sailor Registered User Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: Washington dc Posts: 16,441
Quote:
 Originally posted by Blake OK Sailor, so 1 kg is app .157473 stone. Or .1575 st to 4 places. Or .158 st to 3 places. What is it you believe is wrong again? I've seen some nitpicking in my time, but saying that something is wrong because the working hasn't been rounded to sufficent decimal places for your liking takes the cake.
What is wrong is that
Quote:
 1 kilogram = 0.158 stone or about 14 lb to the stone.
implies 1 Kg = 0.158 stone *exactly*, which is not true, and 14 lbs approximately, which is also not true. It is not a matter of rounding anything.
#13
06-11-2003, 08:30 PM
 Blake Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Posts: 11,049
Yeah, likeantone said it equaled 0.158 exactly. Whatever.
#14
06-11-2003, 08:38 PM
 Speaker for the Dead Guest Join Date: Jun 2000 Location: New Brunswick Posts: 4,404
You did. Or at least you implied it, Blake. You could have said "14 lb = 1 stone, so .158 stone is about 1 kg.

And your rounding skills are pretty weak. Yes, it's .1575 to four places, but to three you round from the original number and get .157 kiliograms.
#15
06-11-2003, 08:46 PM
 sailor Registered User Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: Washington dc Posts: 16,441
Quote:
 Originally posted by amarone I saw a documentary about Al Capone on the History Channel. It included some clips in black and white that I think were shot in the 50s. They gave the weight of his armored car in stones - not pounds. That suggests that at some time in the fairly recent past the stone was a commonly used unit of weight in the US also.
I find that very surprising. I do not think the stone was used in the USA as a unit of weight and even in the UK it would be used for persons but not for cars. maybe there is some confusion or maybe the producers were trying to sound quaint or something.
#16
06-12-2003, 01:39 AM
 TheLoadedDog Guest Join Date: Feb 2001 Location: Sydney, Australia Posts: 9,193
Quote:
 Originally posted by Shade BTW I'm british, and young, and everyone I know quotes weight in stones and pounds, not pounds or kilograms.
And I'm Australian, youngish (33), and the story is similar here. I was born after the conversion to the metric system, yet it is only recently that I've felt comfortable using kilograms and centimetres for human measurement. I'm more comfortable simply saying I'm "17 stone". Actually, no I'm bloody not! Whaddamisaying? Holy Shee-it, it's time to get some exercise.
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#17
06-12-2003, 02:34 AM
 Shade Guest Join Date: Oct 2001 Location: Cambridge. No, the UK one Posts: 4,272
Quote:
 Originally posted by TheLoadedDog And I'm Australian, youngish (33), and the story is similar here. I was born after the conversion to the metric system, yet it is only recently that I've felt comfortable using kilograms and centimetres for human measurement. I'm more comfortable simply saying I'm "17 stone". Actually, no I'm bloody not! Whaddamisaying? Holy Shee-it, it's time to get some exercise.
lol

(I'm not sure if quoting weights in kg is even becoming more common, though it'd make sense. I always use SI for any scientific measurement.)
#18
06-12-2003, 08:39 AM
 StarvingButStrong Guest Join Date: Dec 2002 Posts: 5,383
So, are your scales marked that way? Or do they just have pounds and everyone has to divide by 14 in their heads?
#19
06-12-2003, 08:50 AM
 curly chick Guest Join Date: Dec 2002 Location: Dublin, Ireland Posts: 825
Scales are marked in stoes, with fourteen graduations between the stones.
Usually, they are marked in kg as well, but I only ever refer to kilos if am talking to the shipping manager in work.

The only hard thing to work out in your head is when you hear an American saying they weigh 175 pounds. Dividing by fourteen is not something I'm too good at.
#20
06-12-2003, 09:04 AM
 kabbes Guest Join Date: Aug 2000 Location: The kabbes patch (thanks Spiritus) Posts: 3,426
A small note: I would have thought that we use stones for the same reason all the Imperial measurement ended up being used: they are convenient. On average (at least in the past) an average weight of a person would have been about 10 stone. How much nicer than saying 65kg or 140lb.

Similarly, it is simpler for a person to comprehend their height at 5 (feet) than it is 60 inches or 150cm (or 1.5m).

People generally prefer small numbers in the 5 to 15 kind of range.

This is all my opinion, of course. I have nothing to back it up but there seems to be some logic in it.

pan
#21
06-12-2003, 11:49 AM
 istara Guest Join Date: Mar 2000 Location: Dubai, UAE Posts: 3,634
It's obvious why this measurement was used - to help group larger amount of pounds. Like why we have kilometres and metres.
#22
06-12-2003, 03:18 PM
 JXJohns Guest Join Date: Mar 2003 Location: Middle of the Midwest Posts: 2,315
Quote:
 Originally posted by sailor Not really. 14 pounds equals 6.35 Kg. Otherwise they were looking for an actor who weighed 370 Kg
Yes, I am stupid. In my rush to be the first to reply to the OP, I multiplied when I should have divided.

Oh well. A 370 James Bond would be a site to see!
#23
06-12-2003, 03:29 PM
 everton Guest Join Date: Nov 1999 Location: London, UK Posts: 2,723
Re: British weight: what does "st" mean?

Quote:
 Originally posted by mobo85 What does "st." mean, and what is 1st. equal to in kilograms (UK) and pounds (US).
Since the OP has been answered and somebody with a hat on will be along to close this thread soon, I'd just like to add that however confusing it may seem, not all European countries use metric measurements for everything. So the assumption implied by kilograms (UK) was a mistake – the British use a mixture of traditional and metric units for the things we measure.
#24
08-20-2003, 04:53 PM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Raising this thread from the dead, to pick a nit.

Quote:
 Originally posted by Shade I'm not sure if quoting weights in kg is even becoming more common, though it'd make sense.
Actually, it wouldn't, because a kilogram is officially a unit of mass, not a unit of weight.

But seriously, folks:

I just saw Bridget Jones's Diary (the movie with Renee Zellweger) for the first time. In the scene where she steps onto her bathroom scale, you can clearly see that the scale is calibrated in kilograms on the inner part of the dial and stone on the outer part of the dial.

She also says she weighs "134 pounds" and makes a New Year's Resolution to "lose 20 pounds," and I can't help but think that those units were probably translated from stone for the benefit of the American viewing audience.
#25
08-20-2003, 06:30 PM
 Mangetout Charter Member Join Date: May 2001 Location: England Posts: 56,997
People will generally talk about losing pounds rather than losing x stone, simply because they will tend to lose weightby small amounts.
#26
08-20-2003, 06:37 PM
 MC Master of Ceremonies Guest Join Date: Nov 2002 Location: The 2nd corner Posts: 3,020
Yep, but no British peron would say I weigh so-and-so pounds, unless they were talking to an American, I know I certainly have to do a quick mutiplication in my head to get my weight in pounds.
#27
08-20-2003, 06:51 PM
 Mangetout Charter Member Join Date: May 2001 Location: England Posts: 56,997
Certainly that is true; very few British people will state their weight solely in pounds; more likely that (if they didn't express it in stone) they would use kilogrammes.
#28
08-20-2003, 08:13 PM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Quote:
 Originally posted by Mangetout People will generally talk about losing pounds rather than losing x stone, simply because they will tend to lose weightby small amounts.
In one of the Deleted Scenes on the Bridget Jones's Diary DVD, a pair of train station beggars comments on Bridget's "enormous" thighs. (Remembering, of course, that this is Hollywood's definition of enormous -- even though Bridget is a short woman of 5'3", her 134 pounds is still within the normal healthy weight range for her. I looked it up on a body mass index calculator and everything.)

One of the two beggars says that Bridget "could stand to drop a stone or two".

Now, while said beggar's intent was probably to be insulting rather than to give sound dietary advice, he still referred to the weight she should lose in units of stone, not pounds.
#29
08-20-2003, 08:59 PM
 Shade Guest Join Date: Oct 2001 Location: Cambridge. No, the UK one Posts: 4,272
Re: Raising this thread from the dead, to pick a nit.

Quote:
 Originally posted by tracer Actually, it wouldn't, because a kilogram is officially a unit of mass, not a unit of weight.
You resurrected this thread to nitpick that?

Anyway, I was using "weigh" in the colloquial sense to mean "have a mass of at 1g." I mean, I was using kg as an abbreviation for kilogram-weight. Hey, imperial uses pounds for both... Uh, or maybe I was using "make sense" to mean "be an expected development" not "conform correctly to dimensional analysis." Yeah, that's it.

Oh never mind. And yes, I her weight was measured in stones in the book, though weight loss was in pounds iirc. (And she's Bridget Jones! She doesn't know the difference between mass and weight)

I needed a conversion to 'looking good'ness - I skimmed over the numbers assuming she was at least somewhat overweight, and then looked and realised she was just insecure
#30
08-20-2003, 09:12 PM
 gentle Guest Join Date: Apr 2003 Location: Norway Posts: 311
#31
08-21-2003, 01:30 PM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Cool! I didn't know Google had a unit-conversion calculator built in. I always used the one at www.megaconverter.com instead.

There's a really comprehensive weight/mass unit converter over at http://www.sciencemadesimple.net/weight.html , along with converters for other kinds of units, but be warned -- their volume conversion tool has incorrect sizes for British pints and quarts (although it has the correct size for the British gallon).
#32
08-21-2003, 01:49 PM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Quote:
 Originally posted by Shade I skimmed over the numbers assuming [Bridget Jones] was at least somewhat overweight, and then looked and realised she was just insecure
True enough. I took her stated weight in the movie (136 lbs.), and combined it with Renee Zellweger's height which I gott off the IMDb (5'3"), and plugged it into one of those online Body Mass Index calculators. Sure enough, she was within the normal healthy weight range, not overweight.
#33
08-21-2003, 02:49 PM
 Chronos Charter Member Moderator Join Date: Jan 2000 Location: The Land of Cleves Posts: 73,908
So a hundredweight is 112 pounds? There's got to be some interesting story behind that one.

12 inches to a foot makes some sense (divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6), as does 16 ounces to the pound (power of two), but 14 pounds to the stone? Is there no number that the Brits (and us 'Merkins who were crazy enough to keep the system) won't use as a conversion factor?
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#34
08-21-2003, 02:55 PM
 Shade Guest Join Date: Oct 2001 Location: Cambridge. No, the UK one Posts: 4,272
Quote:
 Originally posted by Chronos So a hundredweight is 112 pounds? There's got to be some interesting story behind that one. 12 inches to a foot makes some sense (divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6), as does 16 ounces to the pound (power of two), but 14 pounds to the stone? Is there no number that the Brits (and us 'Merkins who were crazy enough to keep the system) won't use as a conversion factor?
We seem remarkably resistant to 10, though it's gained a lot in poularity recently

I assumed a hundredwieght was chosen to be 8 st. But I don't know. Most of the measurements seem to have an interesting story...
#35
08-21-2003, 03:45 PM
 amarone Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Atlanta, GA Posts: 4,849
There are 20 hundredweights in a British ton, so some nice consistency with 20 shillings in a pound. One ton is then 2,240 lbs, whereas the American 2,000 lbs short ton is easier.

A google shows "hundredweight" showing up on many US web pages as a shipping weight (e.g. it was on FedEx and UPS pages), but didn't notice an explanation. Is it 100 lbs?
#36
08-21-2003, 03:51 PM
 everton Guest Join Date: Nov 1999 Location: London, UK Posts: 2,723
According to this PDF document:
Quote:
 Since at least 1400 a standard weight unit in Britain has been the hundredweight, which is equal to 112 avoirdupois pounds rather than 100. There were very good reasons for the odd size of this "hundred": 112 pounds made the hundredweight equivalent for most purposes with competing units of other countries, especially the German zentner and the French quintal. Furthermore, 112 is a multiple of 16, so the British hundredweight can be divided conveniently into 4 quarters of 28 pounds, 8 stone of 14 pounds, or 16 cloves of 7 pounds each. The ton, originally a unit of wine measure, was defined to equal 20 hundredweight or 2240 pounds.
#37
08-21-2003, 05:06 PM
 Polycarp Member Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: A better place to be Posts: 26,718
Quote:
 Originally posted by Chronos So a hundredweight is 112 pounds? There's got to be some interesting story behind that one. 12 inches to a foot makes some sense (divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6), as does 16 ounces to the pound (power of two), but 14 pounds to the stone? Is there no number that the Brits (and us 'Merkins who were crazy enough to keep the system) won't use as a conversion factor?
Actually, as shade alludes to in the post following yours, Chronos, there are two tons -- but it's not British vs. American.

There was formerly a measurement called the "long ton" equivalent to 2,240 pounds avoirdupois, used for measuring the weight of specific commodities -- coal, for one. (I learned about it as a child when my dad was working for a coal company.) This was used alongside the "short ton" of 2,000 pounds.

The hundredweight, no modifier, was, unsurprisingly, 100 pounds, or 0.05 (short) ton. But there was a (rarely used) measurement called the "long hundredweight" of 112 pounds, or 0.05 long ton.

AFAIK the long ton and the two types of hundredweight have pretty well faded from use in the last fifty years. But I'd not be surprised to find out they're still used here and there.

(It's interesting to note that the long ton is nearly equivalent to the metric tonne, 1 long ton being 98.4375% of a metric tonne -- or 1 metric tonne being 1.015873 long tons.)
#38
08-24-2003, 10:00 AM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Quote:
 Originally posted by everton Furthermore, 112 is a multiple of 16, so the British hundredweight can be divided conveniently into 4 quarters of 28 pounds, 8 stone of 14 pounds, or 16 cloves of 7 pounds each.
Cloves?!?!!
#39
08-24-2003, 10:12 AM
 amanset Guest Join Date: Aug 1999 Location: Stockholm, Sweden Posts: 5,646
Re: Raising this thread from the dead, to pick a nit.

Quote:
 Originally posted by tracer I just saw Bridget Jones's Diary (the movie with Renee Zellweger) for the first time. In the scene where she steps onto her bathroom scale, you can clearly see that the scale is calibrated in kilograms on the inner part of the dial and stone on the outer part of the dial. She also says she weighs "134 pounds" and makes a New Year's Resolution to "lose 20 pounds," and I can't help but think that those units were probably translated from stone for the benefit of the American viewing audience.
From IMDB:

"There are subtle differences between the same scenes in the USA and UK versions of the movie. This includes not only different takes of the scene, but sometimes different dialogue. For example, one version of the first job interview has a question about "the El Niño phenomenon", others have a question about Microsoft. In addition, during the credits, the USA version has a home movie of Mark Darcy's 8th birthday party with the young Bridget. The UK version has interviews with the various characters about the new relationship between Bridget and Mark."

I guess it is quite possible that the scene you mentioned was filmed differently for the US version of the movie and hence she used measurements that Americans would be familiar with. IIRC here in Sweden we had the UK version of the movie.
#40
08-24-2003, 10:15 AM
 everton Guest Join Date: Nov 1999 Location: London, UK Posts: 2,723
tracer: No, I'd never heard of them either. Certainly not in daily use these days, but then nor are the rod, pole, perch, chain etc. Some old units still cling on for special purposes only – a cricket pitch is 22 yards long which is 1 chain, for instance, and furlongs are still used to measure the length of horse races.

Coal is still sold in hundredweights for domestic use, and a person controlling their weight might refer to an amount in either stone or pounds ("I lost half a stone this month on that Atkins thing" etc).
#41
08-24-2003, 10:50 AM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Quote:
 Originally posted by amarone There are 20 hundredweights in a British ton, so some nice consistency with 20 shillings in a pound.
Except that, according to the .pdf file that everton provided a link to above, the shilling was originally defined to be 1/12 of a pound, not 1/20 of a pound like it was at the outset of the last century. (The penny, however, was 1/240 of a pound in both cases.)
#42
08-24-2003, 11:28 AM
 The Griffin Guest Join Date: Apr 2002 Location: Edinburgh, Scotland Posts: 824
I dont understand why americans dont use the stone. It's a nice friendly measurement that makes the numbers smaller.
#43
08-24-2003, 11:43 AM
 Rayne Man Guest Join Date: Jan 2001 Location: Newark-On-Trent UK Posts: 3,743
The railway industy in the UK still use chains. All measurments on the trackside ( for instance between signal posts etc. ) are measured in miles and chains.
#44
08-24-2003, 01:59 PM
 amarone Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Atlanta, GA Posts: 4,849
Quote:
 Originally posted by The Griffin I dont understand why americans dont use the stone. It's a nice friendly measurement that makes the numbers smaller.
Maybe Americans prefer big numbers. You will often see measurements in feet that would be in yards in the UK, for example: Lane ends, 1000 ft. Even weights over 1 ton are often expressed in pounds, e.g. the 5,280 Lb memorial of the 10 commandments currently causing so much controversy in Alabama.
#45
08-24-2003, 04:29 PM
 spingears Guest Join Date: Jul 2003 Location: KNOXTN Posts: 4,334
Quote:
 Originally posted by Rayne Man The railway industy in the UK still use chains. All measurments on the trackside ( for instance between signal posts etc. ) are measured in miles and chains.
[SIZE=3}Chains[/SIZE] is a term used in the US by surveyors. In times past chains made up of long links were used for land measurement as they were durable and measurements were reproducible which was not the case with fabric or other tape measuring materials. Today steel or fiberglass is prevalent and laser levels and theodolites are used extensively.
#46
08-25-2003, 11:53 AM
 tracer Charter Member Join Date: May 1999 Location: Silicon Valley, Cal., USA Posts: 15,797
Quote:
 Originally posted by amarone Maybe Americans prefer big numbers.
Pah. If that were true, we'd be measuring our height in inches, not feet-and-inches. Or even better, centimeters. Which sounds more impressive: "I have a 6-inch wiener" or "I have a 15-centimeter wiener"?
#47
08-25-2003, 12:01 PM
 amarone Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Atlanta, GA Posts: 4,849
I was really just pointing out that there are several situations where America chooses to use larger numbers when there are other units available, so there would be little likelihood they would choose stones merely to get smaller numbers. I doubt there is a conscious decision to choose units that result in big numbers, just that having big numbers is not in itself regarded as being a problem.
#48
08-25-2003, 01:05 PM
 Schnitte Guest Join Date: Feb 2001 Location: Frankfurt, Germany Posts: 3,462
Quote:
 Originally posted by kabbes A small note: I would have thought that we use stones for the same reason all the Imperial measurement ended up being used: they are convenient. On average (at least in the past) an average weight of a person would have been about 10 stone. How much nicer than saying 65kg or 140lb. Similarly, it is simpler for a person to comprehend their height at 5 (feet) than it is 60 inches or 150cm (or 1.5m). People generally prefer small numbers in the 5 to 15 kind of range.
Yes, but it messes up precision. Stating your weight as "10 stone" doesn't look very precise at first glance, and indeed it could be anything between 9.5 stone ( = 60.3 kg) and 10.49 stone ( = 66.6 kg) - a range of more than six kilograms or almost fourteen pounds is way too much for giving the weight of a person. Of course you could come up with fractions of a stone, but IMHO talking about your 10.3 stone weight eats up the advantages of being in the 5 to 15 range.

Of course this is all a matter of what you're accustomed to. To me, weight in kilogram and height in centimetres works just fine.
#49
08-25-2003, 01:17 PM
 amarone Charter Member Join Date: Mar 2001 Location: Atlanta, GA Posts: 4,849
Quote:
 Originally posted by Schnitte Yes, but it messes up precision. Stating your weight as "10 stone" doesn't look very precise at first glance, and indeed it could be anything between 9.5 stone ( = 60.3 kg) and 10.49 stone ( = 66.6 kg) - a range of more than six kilograms or almost fourteen pounds is way too much for giving the weight of a person. Of course you could come up with fractions of a stone, but IMHO talking about your 10.3 stone weight eats up the advantages of being in the 5 to 15 range.
I find people tend to use half-stone precision e.g. "13 and a half stone." For more precision, people say, for example, "13 stone 5."
#50
08-25-2003, 02:03 PM
 BrotherCadfael Guest Join Date: Feb 2003 Location: Vermont Posts: 9,868
Quote:
 Originally posted by Shade We seem remarkably resistant to 10, though it's gained a lot in poularity recently
For all the noise made by those touting the supposed superiority of the metric system, 10 really isn't a very good base to build a measuring system on, for reasons which have been gone into many times before on this board and elsewhere.

Briefly, 10 is divisible only by 2 and 5, in contrast to the much more generous factors available to bases 12, 16, or 60.

Yes, it is much easier under the metric system to shift scales between millimeters and kilometers, than between inches and miles but frankly, this is a relatively rare operation in the real world, and, with the widespread availability of calculators, is not much of a problem.

Subdividing a quantity of something, on the other hand, is an extraordinarily common real-world operation. Half of this, a quarter of that, etc. This is something that we all do many times each day.

Even when metric measurements are used, there is a tendancy to work with more divisible groupings. For example, one source notes that in Europe, carpenters don't buy boards by the meter, but by a standard length of 120 centimeters.

If you use the metric system in your industry or your country, and you are comfortable with it and like it, fine. Just don't make exaggerated claims about its inherent superiority. What it's best at isn't very useful, and what it's worst at is.

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