Pace (unit)

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Pace is a name applied to various units of length relating to natural units of human walking. The chief ambiguity in the definition of a pace is whether the description concerns a single step, from one foot to the opposite foot (typically amounting to around 750 mm), or a double step, starting on one foot and finishing when the same foot falls again, including the intermediate fall of the opposite foot (typically amounting to around 1.5 m.) Like other traditional measurements paces have usually started as informal units but have often subsequently been standardized, often with the specific length set according to a typical brisk or military marching stride.

In the US it is an uncommon customary unit of length denoting a brisk single step and equal to 2½ feet or 30 inches (76.2 cm).[1][2]

The term "pace" is also used to translate similar formal units in other systems of measurement. Pacing is also used as an informal measure in surveying, with the "pace" equal to two of the surveyor's steps reckoned through comparison with a standard rod or chain.

Other systems

The Roman pace (Latin: passus) was a Roman unit of length. It was notionally the distance of a full stride from the position of one heel where it raised off of the ground to where it set down again at the end of the step—i.e., two steps, one by each foot. Under Agrippa, it was standardized as the distance of two steps (gradūs) or five Roman feet (pedes), about 1.48 meters or 4 feet 10 inches. There were 1000 paces in the Roman mile, which was named after that distance as the mille passus or passuum.

The Byzantine pace (Greek: βήμα, bḗma) was an adaption of the Roman step, a distance of 2½ Greek feet.[5] The double pace (βῆμα διπλοῦν, bḗma diploûn), meanwhile, was similar to the Roman unit, comprising 5 Greek feet.

The Welsh pace (Welsh: cam) was reckoned as 3 Welsh feet of 9 inches and thus may be seen as similar to the English yard. 3 paces made up a leap and 9000 a Welsh mile.

See also


  1. "Appendix G: Weights and Measures", The World Factbook, Washington: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. U.S. Army Map Reading and Navigation, p. 5.8, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009 ISBN 1-60239-702-3.
  3. Schilbach, Erich, Byzantinische Metrologie<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. (German)
  4. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  5. Schilbach,[3] cited by Ménage.[4]