Outline of the metric system

"The metric system is for all people for all time." (Condorcet 1791) Four objects used in making measurements in everyday situations that have metric calibrations are shown: a tape measure calibrated in centimetres, a thermometer calibrated in degrees Celsius, a kilogram mass, and an electrical multimeter which measures volts, amps and ohms.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the metric system:

Metric system various loosely related systems of measurement that trace their origin to the decimal system of measurement introduced in France during the French Revolution.

Nature of the metric system

The metric system can be described as all of the following:

Essence of the metric system

Underlying philosophy

Discussions of the underlying philosophy of the metric system (and other systems of measure) include:

Metric units of measure

Articles that exist for many units of measure that are related to various flavours of the metric system are catalogued below. The codes in the various columns have the following meanings:

Name Quantity SI unit cgs unit Other metric Non-metric
Abampere Electric current C
Abcoulomb Electric charge C
Abhenry Inductance C
Abohm Electrical resistance C
Abvolt Potential difference C
Ampere Electric current A
Ampere-meter magnetic pole strength. D
Apostilb Luminance C
Astronomical unit Length E
Dalton (Atomic mass unit) Mass E
Barye Pressure C
Becquerel Radioactive activity C
Bril Luminance X
Candela per square metre Luminance D
Candela Luminous intensity A
Degree Celsius Temperature C
Centimetre Length B A
Coulomb Electric charge C
Cubic centimetre Volume DD
Cubic metre per second Volumetric flow rate D D
Cubic metre Volume D D
Curie Radioactive activity C
Day Time E
Decibel logarithmic unit E
Degree of arc Angle E
Dyne Force C
Electronvolt Energy E
Erg Energy C
Farad Capacitance C
Gal Acceleration C
Gauss Magnetic flux density C
Gram Mass B A
Grave (unit) Mass A
Gray Absorbed [radiation] dose C
Hectare Area E B
Henry Inductance C
Hertz Frequency C C
Hour Time E X
Joule per mole Energy per Amount of substance D
Joule Energy C
Joule-second Angular momentum D
Katal catalytic activity C
Kelvin Temperature A A
Kilogram per cubic metre Density D D
Kilogram Mass A B
Kilometres per hour Velocity X
Litre Volume E
Lumen Luminous flux C
Lumen second Luminous energy D
Lux second luminous exposure D
Lux Illuminance C
Maxwell Magnetic flux C
Metre per second squared Acceleration D D
Metre squared per second Angular momentum D D
Metre Length A B
Microgram Mass BB
Minute of arc Angle E
Minute Time E X
Mole Amount of substance A
Neper logarithmic unit for ratiosE
Newton Force C
Newton metre Torque D
Newton-second Impulse (physics) / Momentum D
Oersted Magnetic field strength C
Ohm Electric resistance C
Pascal Pressure C
Phot Illuminance D
Poise Dynamic viscosity C
Radian per second Angular frequency D
Radian Angle C
Rayleigh Photon flux X
Roentgen (unit) kerma of X-rays and gamma rays D
Roentgen equivalent man Radiation dose equivalent D
Second Time A A
Siemens Electric conductance C
Sievert Radiation dose equivalent C
Skot Luminance X
Square kilometre Area D D
Square metre Area D D
Statcoulomb Electric charge C
Statvolt Potential difference C
Steradian Solid angle C
Stilb (unit)Luminance D
Torr Pressure X
Stokes Kinematic viscosity C
Tesla Magnetic field strength C
Tonne Mass E
Volt Potential difference C
Watt second Energy D
Watt Power C
Weber Magnetic flux C

History of the metric system

History of the metric system the metric system developed from a decimal system of measurement adopted by France after the French Revolution.

Chronological history of the metric system

Principal dates in the development of the metric system include:[1]

History of metrication

History of metrication metrication is the process by which legacy, national-specific systems of measurement were replaced by the metric system.

Historical metric system variants

Four variants of the metric system that predate the introduction of SI (1960) are described in varying levels of detail:

Between 1812 and 1839 France used a quasi-metric system:

History of metric units

Politics of the metric system

Prior to 1875 the metric system was controlled by the French Government. In that year, seventeen nations signed the Metre Convention and the management and administration of the system passed into international control.

Both the European Union and the International Organization for Standardization have issued directives/recommendations to harmonise the use of units of measure. These documents endorse the use of SI for most purposes.

Future of the metric system

Metric system organizations

Metric system publications

Persons influential in the metric system

See also


  1. International Bureau of Weights and Measures (2006), The International System of Units (SI) (PDF) (8th ed.), pp. 108–110, ISBN 92-822-2213-6

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