In the world of measurements, there are some units that stand out for their peculiarity. Here are ten of the strangest units of measurement ever conceived.

1. The Beard Second

smoot the

One of the most unusual and imaginative units of measurement is the “Beard-Second”. This unit is inspired by a common unit of measurement, the light-year, but is much more suitable for extremely short distances. A “Beard-Second” is exactly what it sounds like: the average length a beard grows in one second. Many people and scientists describe 1 Beard-Second as 10 nanometers, which is equal to one billionth of a meter.

2. The Millihelen


Are you familiar with the story of the Trojan War? This unit of measurement is about the woman who caused it, Helen of Troy. Her beauty caused a lot of trouble. A “Millihelen” is the amount of beauty required to launch one ship. Since her beauty launched a thousand ships, a full “Helen” would be equal to a thousand ships. It is a measure of beauty, and every Millihelen of beauty you possess is each ship that would go after you.

3. The Smoot

smoot the
Beyond My Ken/wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0

The “Smoot” is one of the most famous units of measurement on this list. A “Smoot” is the length of a person named Oliver R. Smoot. This unit was invented in 1958 when Smoot was 5 feet 7 (or 170 cm) tall. The unit became famous for measuring the Harvard Bridge with Oliver Smoot as a ruler. It is still widely used, and even Google Earth and Google Calculator include it as a unit of measurement.

4. The Sheppey


The “Sheppey” is a unit of measurement for distance that is about 7/8 of a mile. It is based on the idea that this is the nearest distance at which sheep still remain picturesque. It is named after the Isle of Sheppey in the UK and was created by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd.

5. The Mickey

The “Mickey” is a unit of measurement for distance used in the context of computer hardware. It is the smallest negligible unit of distance possible by a computer mouse. Many computers indicate how many Mickeys per inch there are, and the more Mickeys per inch, the higher the quality of the mouse. The name “Mickey” is derived from the famous cartoon character Mickey Mouse.

6. Muggeseggele


“Muggeseggele”, a humorous Alemannic German idiom from Swabia. It is used to indicate a non-specific, very small length or amount of something and literally refers to the scrotum of a fly.

7. The Mother Cow Index

mother cow index

The “Mother Cow Index” is a peculiar unit of measurement. It measures the number of pregnant cows that a piece of land of one acre can support. It was formerly widely used, especially in real estate transactions in the southwest of America. It was a measure of agricultural quality and the availability of natural resources in an area.

8. The Banana Equivalent Dose

banana equivalent dose

The “Banana Equivalent Dose” is a unit of measurement used to compare the amount of radiation a person is exposed to from a certain object, compared to the amount of radiation you get from eating an average banana. This has everything to do with the fact that bananas are radioactive!

9. The Donkey-Power

donkey power

Most people are familiar with “Horse-Power”, which is 745.7 watts of power. But there is also “Donkey-Power”. This unit is much smaller than 1 Horse-Power – it is about 250 Watts, or about a third of a Horse-Power.


pirate ninja

The Pirate-Ninja is a humorous unit used to express a ratio or a comparison between two things, often in the context of internet memes and pop culture.

Harper is a history enthusiast with a penchant for the peculiar. Raised in a small American town, she brings a unique blend of insightful research and playful storytelling to Top10HQ. Harper specializes in uncovering the lesser-known, often bizarre tales of the past, making history accessible and engaging for all. J

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