The USA and the Metric System.

I don’t need a cite for this one. The USA is one of only two countries in the world that hasn’t yet switched over to the metric system. The other one is some obscure country in Africa, I forget the name just now.

My questions:
[li]Why hasn’t the USA switched to the metric system?[/li][li]Will we ever?[/li][li]And what are the consequences, if any, of being one of the only countries to do this and be this way?[/li][/ol]

Thank you in advance for all for your responses:)


  1. Because the American market is big enough that American manufacturers don’t have to worry about other markets.
  2. Because industry can use the metric system to manufacture products without the consumer needing to go along; e.g., I imagine that Apple’s products are designed using the metric system, even though they they are marketed in the US using inches and pounds.
  3. Because Americans like the system and don’t want to change.
  4. Because early attempts to change were stupid. For example, they’d say things like right field is 117.4 meters when the 385’ measurement was just rounded off. This made the metric system look complicated.
  5. Becuase 'murica

I think that county is supposed to be Myanmar (Asia).

We already use it, both everyday (beverages) as well as in official capacity alongside US customary (scientific and government adoption, customary units expressed as conversions from metric).

And many of the “metric countries” really aren’t, especially the English speaking ones. Feet and inches are common, especially describing human height. And for human weight, pounds or even the more archaic “stones.” And UK and other countries still prefer miles and pints.

The standard reasons why not is it will be very expensive. And the will is not there; it doesn’t hurt that much, as long as we learn from previous mistakes

Here is a fun video on YouTube about why the US does not go metric. Near the beginning, the narrator mentions three countries which are not metric: the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia.

I read somewhere that the official definition of US units…is given in metric.

Just for - sorta - fun

Metric is Coming by The Four Bitchin’ Babes

Because we won’t use a system designed by the French!

Because there’s no compelling reason to do so.

Probably. Perhaps decades from now. It will happen slowly and organically.

Few, if any.

It’s just not that important of an issue.

Also Ford, GM, Chrysler. Essentially every auto mechanic in the USA has a full set of metric tools, in daily use.

There’s some natural law that the first socket to go missing in a socket set is the very useful 10 mm.

For sure! I’d vote the 13mm as a close second though.

I use metric whenever possible. My speedometer in my car is set to kilometers. My thermostat at home is in Celsius. I have to remember to use feet instead of meters when talking elevation with people. It’s just a much simpler system than Imperial.

Nitpick of nitpicks, but it’s US customary, the US doesn’t use Imperial. They’re mostly the same but the main difference encountered is in liquid measures - US fluid ounces are 4% bigger, but more of them go into the UK larger measures (e.g. 128 US ounces of 29.57 mL per US gallon vs. 160 UK ounces of 28.41 mL per UK gallon).

I am pretty used to metric, but the one I hate with a passion is Celsius. It might be better for chemistry, but for the human experience it’s not.

To be fair, I’ve seen plenty of folks who only ever use Fahrenheit talk about cold temperatures in the most intuitive human-experience way possible.

“Freezing? Yeah, it’s below zero out there.”

I agree. One makes up for this by using a decimal point. My aquarium temperature is 27.1C.

Xema, the last toolkit I purchased for the car has sockets and wrenches in metric and English.

You have a model that uses both?

Surprisingly, even modern vehicles have the odd SAE bolt, amongst all the metric fasteners.

Please define “switching to the metric system”? Are you limiting us to highway signs? Or are you forcing publishers to no longer print cookbooks with US customary units? Do you mean re-education camps for people that refuse to use centigrade?

It’s irritating, though, that doctors tell me my daughter’s weight in pounds and decimal ounces.

What do you consider as “switched over to the metric system”

The US defined the pound and the foot off the metric system in 1893. This is exactly the same as Celsius is a quantity equation to the official unit of Kelvin. The US actually made this move earlier than almost all of the rest of Europe

While we should move to the SI units to make things easier but laziness and convention block this. The official units of the US have been based off the metric system for far longer than most of the world.

I doubt that laziness and convention will change without being forced as the conversion factors are exact and taxation and trade is almost exclusively metric today anyway.

I adjusted my speedometer to read in m/s, because that is what we used in HS physics. Km/h just seems so kludgy.

Cite please?