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Ell facts for kids

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The English unit of length ell is usually 45 inches. That means 1.143 m (for the international inch). It came from the length of the arm from the shoulder (or the elbow) to the wrist, although the exact length was never defined in English law.

Several different national forms existed, with different lengths: the Scottish ell (about 37 inches), the Flemish ell (about 27 inches) and the Polish ell (0.78 metres, about 31 inches).

This unit has mostly fallen out of use, as have others based on the human arm:

  • digit (1/60 ell)
  • finger (7/360 ell)
  • palm (1/15 ell)
  • hand (4/45 ell)
  • shaftment (2/15 ell)
  • span (1/5 ell)
  • cubit (2/5 ell)

Sometimes ell is used as an other word for the cubit.

An ell-wand or ellwand was a rod of length one ell used for official measurement. Edward I of England ordered that every town should have one.

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