Measurement of Length – Definition, Units, Examples (2023)


In this comprehensive article, we will explore the concept of measurement of length. Length is a fundamental aspect of our everyday lives, as it helps us identify the size of objects and the distance between two points. Whether it's measuring the length of a ruler or determining the dimensions of a room, understanding how to measure length accurately is essential. In this article, we will delve into the definition of length, the units used to measure length, and various examples to illustrate these concepts.

What Is Length?

Length can be defined as the measurement of the size of an object or the distance between two points. It is a fundamental dimension that helps us understand the physical extent of an object or space. For example, the length of a ruler indicates how long the ruler is. By knowing the length of an object, we can compare it with other objects or determine its suitability for a particular purpose.

Units to Measure Length

There are various units used to measure length, depending on the system of measurement being used. Let's explore two types of units: non-standard units and standard units.

  1. Non-standard units of measuring length: Non-standard units do not have fixed measurements and can vary from person to person or object to object. Some examples of non-standard units include handspans, footspans, finger widths, threads, or ropes. These units are often used for approximate measurements or in informal settings. For instance, a child and an adult may measure the length of an object using their handspans, but the measurements will differ due to the difference in hand sizes.

    • Handspan: A handspan is the maximum distance between the tips of the thumb and the little finger. It is generally about 8 inches, but the actual measurement can vary depending on the individual's hand size.
    • Foot-span: A foot-span is the distance between the point of the toe and the heel of the foot.
  2. Standard units of measuring length: Standard units are predefined and do not change from person to person or object to object. These units provide a consistent and universally accepted measurement. Some examples of standard units include centimeters, meters, kilometers, inches, feet, and yards.

    • Metric System: The metric system includes units such as kilometer, hectometer, decameter, meter, decimeter, centimeter, and millimeter. The base unit in the metric system is the meter, and other units are derived from it through specific conversion factors.
    • Imperial System: The imperial system includes units such as feet, yards, and inches. In this system, there is a relationship between these units. For example, 1 yard is equal to 3 feet, and 1 foot is equal to 12 inches.

    It's important to note that there are conversion factors between metric and imperial units. For example, 1 meter is approximately equal to 3.28 feet, and 1 inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters.

S.I. Unit of Length

The S.I. (International System of Units) unit used to measure length is the meter (m). The meter is the base unit of length and is widely used in scientific and technical research. Rulers, tape measures, meter sticks, and yardsticks are commonly used tools to measure length accurately.

  1. Rulers: Rulers have straight edges and are stiff. They typically have markings in both inches and centimeters, allowing for precise measurements of shorter lengths, such as the length of a pencil or notebook.
  2. Tape Measures: Tape measures are flexible straight edges with graduated markings. They are useful for measuring longer lengths that exist in multiple dimensions, such as waist measurements or the circumference of an object.
  3. Meter Sticks: Meter sticks and yardsticks are similar in construction and length. They have straight edges and are stiff. Meter sticks measure lengths up to 1 meter, while yardsticks measure lengths up to 3 feet.
  4. Odometers and Pedometers: Odometers are used to measure long lengths traveled by vehicles, such as cars and bicycles. Pedometers measure distances traveled by humans or other living creatures as they walk.

How to Measure Length?

To measure the length of an object accurately, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the unit: Select the unit in which you want to measure the length, such as centimeters/millimeters or inches.
  2. Align the ruler: Find the 0 mark on one end of the ruler and align it with the starting edge of the object to be measured.
  3. Read the endpoint: Look at the endpoint of the object and note the value indicated by the ruler. For example, if the length of a pencil is measured from 0 to 10 cm, the length is 10 cm.

Solved Examples on Measurement of Length

Let's solve a few examples to further illustrate the measurement of length:

  1. Example 1: What is the length of a window (in feet) if a 12-inch ruler is placed 4 times in line?

    • Solution: A 12-inch ruler is placed 4 times, so the length of the window is 12 * 4 = 48 inches = 4 feet.
  2. Example 2: What should be the minimum length (in centimeters) of a pencil box so that a pen of length 450 mm can fit inside it?

    • Solution: 1 mm = 0.1 cm
    • 450 mm = 45 cm
    • The minimum length of the pencil box should be more than 45 cm.
  3. Example 3: The gate is 3 feet long. How many inches is it?

    • Solution: 1 foot = 12 inches
    • 3 feet = 3 * 12 = 36 inches
  4. Example 4: Olive walked 100 yards from her house to the bookstore, and Mark walked 300 feet from his house to his friend's house. Who walked more?

    • Solution: 1 yard = 3 feet
    • 100 yards = 300 feet
    • Both Olive and Mark walked the same distance of 300 feet.

Practice Problems on Measurement of Length

Let's solve a few practice problems to test our understanding of measuring length:

  1. Problem: Kim started walking from her house. She traveled 2 km from her house to the park, 3000 m from the park to the club, and 10,000 cm from the club to her house. How much distance did she travel in total (in meters)?

    • Options:
      • a) 51 m
      • b) 5100 m
      • c) 51000 m
      • d) None of these
    • Solution: Total distance = 2 km + 3000 m + 10,000 cm = 2000 m + 3000 m + 100 m = 5100 m. Therefore, the correct answer is option b) 5100 m.
  2. Problem: How many erasers of length 30 mm can you fit in a 13 cm box if they are placed in a straight line one after the other?

    • Options:
      • a) 1
      • b) 2
      • c) 3
      • d) 4
    • Solution: Length of an eraser = 30 mm = 3 cm
    • 13 cm ÷ 3 cm = 4.33
    • We can only place 4 erasers. Therefore, the correct answer is option d) 4.
  3. Problem: Help Catherine find the length of the pencil.

    • Options:
      • a) 12 cm
      • b) 13 cm
      • c) 10 cm
      • d) 9.5 cm
    • Solution: The length of the pencil = 13 cm - 1 cm = 12 cm. Therefore, the correct answer is option a) 12 cm.


In conclusion, the measurement of length is a crucial aspect of our daily lives. By understanding the concept of length and the various units used to measure it, we can accurately determine the size of objects and the distance between two points. Whether it's using standard units like centimeters and meters or non-standard units like handspans and footspans, measuring length allows us to make informed decisions and comparisons. Remember to choose the appropriate unit, align the ruler, and read the endpoint to measure length accurately. Keep practicing and solving problems to enhance your understanding of this fundamental concept.

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