Algebraic Steps / Dimensional Analysis Formula

0.3048 m
1 ft
0.0254 m
1 in

Conversion to common lengths

Nautical Miles

Feet to Meters and vice versa

How to convert from one unit to the other? The need for conversions between various units of length is explained below and the conversion from meter to foot and vice versa is shown through examples. Easy calculations are also presented for converting different values ​​without a calculator.

Why convert from one unit to another?

The conversion from feet to meters and vice versa is an indispensable calculation in science and technology today. The United States and Great Britain, two of the world’s leading powers in innovation, commerce and technology, still use foot / feet as the main unit of length.

If anybody uses technologies or produces stuff for the US market or someone from the US makes business with someone in Europe for example, the correct conversion from one unit to another is very important.

However, some sectors, as explained above, still mainly use traditional units, such as aeronautics or navigation.

A conversion failure from foot to meter or vice versa can cause complications, from minor irregularities, to bankruptcy of a business or putting people’s lives at risk. History shows us that conversion errors between foot and meter have happened and are still happening.

Therefore it is important to explain the units and the correct conversion from one to another.

Converting feet to meters

value in meter = (value in feet) / 3.2808

One foot equals 0.3048 meters . In other words, one foot is a little less than a third of a meter. The exact value is obtained with the following formula.

Feet and Inches compared to Meters

For example if we have a length of 15 feet it would be:

15 feet / 3.2808 = 4.572000 meters

A vague estimate can be made by dividing the value in feet by 3. Thus the length of 15 feet would be 15/3 = 5 meters . However, always keep in mind that this is only an estimate.

The difference between the foot and the meter

For thousands of years mankind has developed methods to measure sizes, areas and lengths. At first they used parts of their own body, such as fingers, arms or feet, or also mobile objects such as ropes or sticks. When they began to exchange goods with other cities and kingdoms, the need arose for a uniform system to improve collaboration. Even in the Middle Ages there were a multitude of units whose values ​​varied from one place to another.

However, over time two main systems of measurement that are used to this day emerged: The International System of Units and the Anglo-Saxon System of Units . The two systems are standardized and used internationally in a multitude of countries. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, the two systems are used in coexistence. However, the divergences between one system and the other, such as inaccuracies in the conversion continue to cause problems today.

The main difference regarding units of length is that the International System of Units is a metric system . The basic unit of length is the meter and all other units of length are derived from it, being decimal multiples . Instead, the Anglo-Saxon System of Units uses a series of units such as inch, foot, yard and mile that do not have a standardized relationship to each other.

The following paragraphs give an overview of what principal units of length are, how and where they are used, and how to convert units from one system to another.

The foot

We start with the considerably older and more traditional unit, which over time has had various definitions and values.

According to the legend, the unit “foot” came from a worker in Mesopotamia who was tired of bending down so much to measure stone blocks. The resourceful worker then started measuring the blocks using the size of his feet to watch his back.

After giving a precise and current definition of the foot, the extensive history of this unit is shown, whose origin starts about 3,000 years before Christ . In addition, the distribution of the foot unit with respect to the place and the work sector is explained. Following that comes the detailed definition of the unit meter.

Definition of the foot unit

The foot is a unit of length that is used to measure distances, altitudes, and sizes. Furthermore, the foot can be used to define areas and volumes, in this case being the unit of their edges. The foot unit has a long history and its exact value has varied over time and depending on the country where it was used. However, today its value is equivalent to 12 inches.

The English name of the foot is “foot” in the singular and “feet” in the plural. The abbreviation for the unit is “ft” .

In addition to the foot, there are several other units of length in the Anglo-Saxon System, such as the inch, the yard and the mile. Those units are going to be explained later in this article.

History of the foot unit

  • The origin of the foot: It is not scientifically proven when the foot first emerged as a unit of length in human history. The oldest find is related to the Sumerian civilization in ancient Mesopotamia, some 3,000 years before Christ . It is about a meter of copper that is divided into 30 units (fingers) of 1.73 cm. 16 Units of that meter make one foot which is then equivalent to 27.6 cm .
  • In ancient times: Ancient Egyptians and Romans changed the meter division from 30 units to 28 units. Therefore the value of the Roman foot increases to about 29.6 cm. Still: A foot is not equal to a foot – next to the pes monetalis, which was then the official unit of a foot, a part of the Romans knew and used another foot which is called the Drussian pes and measures 33.27 cm. That foot is not made up of 16 toes, but 18 toes and is named by Nero Claudio Drusu.

    In ancient Greece there are a multitude of different foot units. Some Greek feet are formed by 16 toes (“pous”) and others by 18 toes (“pygme”) . Some of the best known units are the Doric foot, the Ionic foot, the Olympic foot, and the Macedonian foot. Values ​​range from 27.5 cm (Macedonian foot) to 34.83 cm (ionic foot) . In Greece the standing unit was used for example in the construction of ancient temples.

  • In the Middle Ages: In the Middle Ages the division of units changes again. Since then the foot has been divided into 12 units, the so-called inches. Many construction sites, especially the churches of that time, are based on standing units. The value of said foot may vary a bit from job to job, but is always based on one of the older units. At that time there is also first written evidence that the twelve inch foot is used to measure real property.

    The great change happened in the year 1793 in France , when for the first time the meter was instituted as a unit of universal length. Unlike the foot, the meter is not based on the human body, but on the dimension of planet earth. The meter was defined at that time as one ten millionth of the distance between the equator and the north pole, passing through France. In many regions the foot values ​​change to better harmonize with the universal meter – thus 25 cm, 30 cm and 50 cm feet originate. The foot is already being divided into 10 units, instead of 12 units to get closer to the decimal system of the meter.

  • At present: The foot used today in Anglo-Saxon countries is declared and approved by the Anglo-Saxon System of Units in 1959 . Its exact value is uniform throughout the world and equals 12 inches .

    In conclusion, the foot is the oldest unit of length used to this day. The first finds of use date back to about 3,000 years before Christ. Over time the foot has changed many times in value and exact definition, depending on the place of use. Only in 1959 was a universal value of 30.48 cm determined by the Anglo-Saxon System of Units.

    The following is the use of the foot unit today. It begins with the use relative to the place, continuing with the use relative to the sector of use.

Using the foot unit in the world

Currently there are certain countries in which the foot is the main unit of length. However, the foot is used in certain sectors of work, regardless of the country.

Use relative to the place:

While the foot was previously used as a unit of length in many parts of the world, from Egypt and Europe to China and Japan , today the use of the foot unit is very rare.

However, today there are countries scattered around the world that still use the foot unit as the main unit of length.

These countries have often been colonies of the United Kingdom or have strong ties to other Anglo-Saxon countries.

This is how the units foot, inch, yard, and mile are used in the United States, Great Britain, and Liberia and Myanmar. These units of length are also sometimes used in Canada, Australia and New Zealand . In other countries the foot unit is so rare that many people do not even know the approximate value of it.

Use relative to theme:

In certain sectors, collaboration between various countries is essential. To avoid problems and misunderstandings, a main length unit is determined.

  • Aeronautics: The most common item for the use of the foot is aeronautics. The height of an airplane or any aerial vehicle is usually expressed in “feet” (feet) . Even inside some airplanes, passengers can know the current value of the unit foot. They also use that unit in elevation maps, especially to express measurements of mountains and airports.
  • Navigation:  In navigation the foot is used to this day in several areas. For example, the length of a ship is usually indicated in feet. To measure objects and heights inside the boat, such as the rail that the foot is used and also the “inch” (the inch) . In addition, in the United States all nautical charts use the unit foot to measure the depth of the water, while in England today the indications are made in meters.
  • The technology:  In order to compete in the North American market, the sizes of many technology products are indicated in inches. That is why we find inches when examining the sizes of screens such as televisions, computers and cell phones. In countries where the metric system is used, these data are more useful for the specification of a product. The actual sizes of the screens are measured in millimeters and are often rounded to fit the metric system. The inch is also found in other sectors of technology, for example to indicate sizes of heating and water pipes. However, the foot is little found in technology since it is a fairly large unit. The inch unit is more suitable in many cases.
  • The sport: Originally the height of the basketball basket, as well as the size of the goal in football were indicated in feet. Today they are indicated in meters, although the FIFA rules system still indicates such numbers in meters and feet.
  • The construction of organs:  In one of the few crafts where the foot unit is still worked is in the construction of organs. The height of a standing organ pipe is usually measured. The note of the pipe varies according to the height and according to the organ register, which is also indicated in feet. The indications in the construction of organs may vary from shop to shop. They are often more like orientation values.
Screen in Inches / FeetIn conclusion the foot is a unit that is used today in several countries scattered around the world, some of them the United States, the United Kingdom and partly Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In certain sectors such as navigation, aeronautics and technology, indications in feet or in inches are common throughout the world, to collaborate with Anglo-Saxon countries, without conversion errors.

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