Line (unit)

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The line (abbreviated L or l or or lin.) was a small English unit of length, variously reckoned as ​110, ​112, ​116, or ​140 of an inch. It was not included among the units authorized as the British Imperial system in 1824.

Size[edit]

The line was not recognized by any statute of the English Parliament but was usually understood as ​14 of a barleycorn,[citation needed] which itself was recognized by statute as ​13 of an inch but often reckoned as ​14 of an inch instead. The line was eventually decimalized as ​110 of an inch, without recourse to barleycorns.[3] The button trade used the term, redefined as ​140 of an inch.[4]

In use[edit]

Botanists formerly used the units (usually as ​112 inch) to measure the size of plant parts. Linnaeus's Philosophia botanica (1751) includes the Linea in its summary of units of measurements, defining it as "Linea una Mensurae parisinae"; Stearns gives its length as 2.25 mm. Even after metrication, British botanists continued to employ tools with gradations marked as linea (lines); the British line is approx. 2.1 mm and the Paris line approx. 2.3 mm.[5]

Gunsmiths and armament companies also employed the ​110-inch line (the "decimal line"), in part owing to the importance of the German and Russian arms industries.[6] These are now given in terms of millimeters, but the seemingly arbitrary 7.62 mm caliber was originally understood as a 3-line caliber (as with the 1891 Mosin–Nagant rifle). The 12.7 mm caliber used by the M2 Browning machine gun was similarly a 5-line caliber.[6]

Foreign units[edit]

Other similar small units called lines include:

  • The Russian liniya, ​110 of the diuym which had been set precisely equal to an English inch by Peter the Great[7]
  • The French ligne or Paris line, ​112 of the French inch (pouce) and about 1.06 L.
  • The Portuguese linha, ​112 of the Portuguese inch or 12 "points" (pontos) or 2.29 mm
  • The German linie was usually ​112 of the German inch but sometimes also ​110 German inch
  • The Vienna line, ​112 of a Vienna inch.[8][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Jefferson (1790).
  2. ^ Niles (1814), p. 22.
  3. ^ Jefferson,[1] republished by Niles.[2]
  4. ^ Cole (2002).
  5. ^ Stearn, W.T. (1992). Botanical Latin: History, grammar, syntax, terminology and vocabulary, Fourth edition. David and Charles.
  6. ^ a b Hogg (1991).
  7. ^ Cardarelli (2004), pp. 121–124.
  8. ^ Albert Johannsen. "Manual of petrographic methods". p. 623.
  9. ^ Karl Wilhelm Naegeli; Simon Schwendener. "The Microscope in Theory and Practice". p. 294.

Bibliography[edit]