A METRIC PREFIX is a unit prefix that precedes a basic unit of measure to indicate a multiple or fraction of the unit. While all metric prefixes in common use today are decadic , historically there have been a number of binary metric prefixes as well. Each prefix has a unique symbol that is prepended to the unit symbol. The prefix _kilo- _, for example, may be added to _gram_ to indicate _multiplication_ by one thousand: one kilogram is equal to one thousand grams. The prefix _milli- _, likewise, may be added to _metre_ to indicate _division_ by one thousand; one millimetre is equal to one thousandth of a metre.
CONTENTS * 1 List of SI prefixes * 2 Application to units of measurement * 2.1 Metric units * 2.1.1
* 2.2 Non-metric units * 3 Presentation * 3.1 Pronunciation * 3.2 Typesetting * 4 Non-standard prefixes * 4.1 Obsolete metric prefixes * 4.2 Double prefixes * 4.3 "Hella" prefix proposal * 4.4 X, W and V * 5 Similar symbols and abbreviations * 5.1 Binary prefixes * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References * 9 External links LIST OF SI PREFIXES The BIPM specifies twenty prefixes for the International System of Units (SI). SI prefixes * v * t * e PREFIX BASE 1000 BASE 10 DECIMAL ENGLISH WORD ADOPTION NAME SYMBOL SHORT SCALE LONG SCALE yotta Y 10008 1024 1000000000000000000000000 septillion quadrillion 1991 zetta Z 10007 1021 1000000000000000000000 sextillion trilliard 1991 exa E 10006 1018 1000000000000000000 quintillion trillion 1975 peta P 10005 1015 1000000000000000 quadrillion billiard 1975 tera T 10004 1012 1000000000000 trillion billion 1960 giga G 10003 109 1000000000 billion milliard 1960 mega M 10002 106 1000000 million million 1873 kilo k 10001 103 1000 thousand thousand 1795 hecto h 10002/3 102 100 hundred hundred 1795 deca da 10001/3 101 10 ten ten 1795 10000 100 1 one one – deci d 1000−1/3 10−1 0.1 tenth tenth 1795 centi c 1000−2/3 10−2 0.01 hundredth hundredth 1795 milli m 1000−1 10−3 0.001 thousandth thousandth 1795 micro μ 1000−2 10−6 0.000001 millionth millionth 1873 nano n 1000−3 10−9 0.000000001 billionth milliardth 1960 pico p 1000−4 10−12 0.000000000001 trillionth billionth 1960 femto f 1000−5 10−15 0.000000000000001 quadrillionth billiardth 1964 atto a 1000−6 10−18 0.000000000000000001 quintillionth trillionth 1964 zepto z 1000−7 10−21 0.000000000000000000001 sextillionth trilliardth 1991 yocto y 1000−8 10−24 0.000000000000000000000001 septillionth quadrillionth 1991 * ^ Prefixes adopted before 1960 already existed before SI. 1873 was the introduction of the CGS system . Each prefix name has a symbol that is used in combination with the symbols for units of measure. For example, the symbol for _kilo-_ is 'k', and is used to produce 'km', 'kg', and 'kW', which are the SI symbols for kilometre, kilogram, and kilowatt, respectively. Where Greek letters are unavailable, the symbol for micro 'µ' is commonly replaced by 'u'. Prefixes corresponding to an integer power of one thousand are generally preferred. Hence _100 m_ is preferred over _1 hm_ (hectometre) or _10 dam_ (decametres). The prefixes hecto, deca, deci, and centi are commonly used for everyday purposes, and the centimetre (cm) is especially common. However, some modern building codes require that the millimetre be used in preference to the centimetre, because "use of centimetres leads to extensive usage of decimal points and confusion". Prefixes may not be used in combination. This also applies to mass ,
for which the
In the arithmetic of measurements having units, the units are treated as multiplicative factors to values. If they have prefixes, all but one of the prefixes must be expanded to their numeric multiplier, except when combining values with identical units. Hence, * 6997500000000000000♠5 mV × 6997500000000000000♠5 mA = 6997500000000000000♠5×10−3 V × 6997500000000000000♠5×10−3 A = 6995249999999999999♠25×10−6 V·A = 6995249999999999999♠25 µW * 6997500000000000000♠5.00 mV + 6995099999999999999♠10 µV = 6997500000000000000♠5.00 mV + 6995100000000000000♠0.01 mV = 6997501000000000000♠5.01 mV When units occur in exponentiation , for example, in square and cubic forms, the multiplication prefix must be considered part of the unit, and thus included in the exponentiation. * 1 km2 means one square kilometre , or the area of a square of 7003100000000000000♠1000 m by 7003100000000000000♠1000 m and not 7003100000000000000♠1000 square metres . * 2 Mm3 means two cubic megametres , or the volume of two cubes of 7006100000000000000♠1000000 m by 7006100000000000000♠1000000 m by 7006100000000000000♠1000000 m or 7018200000000000000♠2×1018 m3, and not 7006200000000000000♠2000000 cubic metres (7006200000000000000♠2×106 m3). Examples * 6998500000000000000♠5 cm = 6998500000000000000♠5×10−2 m = 5 × 0.01 m = 0.05 m * 7006900000000000000♠9 km2 = 9 × (103 m)2 = 9 × (103)2 × m2 = 7006900000000000000♠9×106 m2 = 9 × 7006100000000000000♠1000000 m2 = 7006900000000000000♠9000000 m2 * 3 MW = 7006300000000000000♠3×106 W = 3 × 7006100000000000000♠1000000 W = 7006300000000000000♠3000000 W APPLICATION TO UNITS OF MEASUREMENT The use of prefixes can be traced back to the introduction of the metric system in the 1790s, long before the 1960 introduction of the SI. The prefixes, including those introduced after 1960, are used with any metric unit, whether officially included in the SI or not (e.g., millidynes and milligauss). Metric prefixes may also be used with non-metric units. The choice of prefixes with a given unit is usually dictated by convenience of use. Unit prefixes for amounts that are much larger or smaller than those actually encountered are seldom used. METRIC UNITS Mass In use, the kilogram, gram, milligram, microgram, and smaller are fairly common. However, megagram (and gigagram, teragram, etc.) are rarely used; tonnes (and kilotonnes, megatonnes, etc – although these units generally are not used as a measure of mass _per se_, but rather TNT energy equivalent of a mass ) or scientific notation are used instead. Megagram is occasionally used to disambiguate the metric tonne from the various non-metric tons. An exception is pollution emission rates, which are typically on the order of Tg/yr. Sometimes, only one element or compound is denoted for an emission, such as Tg C/yr or Tg N/yr. Alone among SI units, the base unit of mass, the kilogram, already includes a prefix. The prefixes consequently do not indicate corresponding multipliers of the base unit in the case of mass; for example, a megagram is 7003100000000000000♠1×103 kg, whereas _mega-_ indicates a multiplier of 7006100000000000000♠106. Volume The litre (equal to a cubic decimetre), millilitre (equal to a cubic centimetre), microlitre, and smaller are common. In Europe, the centilitre is often used for packaged products (such as wine) and the decilitre less frequently. (The latter two items include prefixes corresponding to an exponent that is not divisible by three.) Larger volumes are usually denoted in kilolitres, megalitres or gigalitres, or else in cubic metres (1 cubic metre = 1 kilolitre) or cubic kilometres (1 cubic kilometre = 1 teralitre). For scientific purposes, the cubic metre is usually used. Length The kilometre, metre, centimetre, millimetre, and smaller are common. (However, the decimetre is rarely used.) The micrometre is often referred to by the non-SI term _micron _. In some fields, such as chemistry , the ångström (equal to 0.1 nm) historically competed with the nanometre. The femtometre , used mainly in particle physics, is usually called a fermi . For large scales, megametre, gigametre, and larger are rarely used. Instead, non-metric units are used, such as astronomical units , light years , and parsecs ; the astronomical unit is mentioned in the SI standards as an accepted non-SI unit. Time And Angles The second, millisecond, microsecond, and shorter are common. The kilosecond and megasecond also have some use, though for these and longer times one usually uses either scientific notation or minutes, hours, and so on. Official policies about the use of these prefixes vary slightly
between the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) and the
American
The BIPM’s position on the use of SI prefixes with units of time larger than the second is the same as that of the NIST, but their position with regard to angles differs: they state "However astronomers use milliarcsecond, which they denote mas, and microarcsecond, µas, which they use as units for measuring very small angles." The SI unit of angle is the radian , but, as mentioned above, degrees, minutes and seconds see some scientific use. Temperature Official policy also varies from common practice for the degree
Energy There exist a number of definitions for the non-SI unit, the calorie . There are gram calories and kilogram calories. One kilogram calorie, which equals one thousand gram calories, often appears capitalized and without a prefix (i.e. 'Cal') when referring to "dietary calories " in food. It is common to apply metric prefixes to the gram calorie, but not to the kilogram calorie: thus, for example, 1 kcal = 1000 cal = 1 Cal. NON-METRIC UNITS Metric prefixes are widely used outside the system of metric units . Common examples include the megabyte and the decibel . Metric prefixes rarely appear with imperial or US units except in some special cases (e.g., microinch, kilofoot, kilopound or 'kip'). They are also used with other specialized units used in particular fields (e.g., megaelectronvolt , gigaparsec , millibarn ). They are also occasionally used with currency units (e.g., gigadollar), mainly by people who are familiar with the prefixes from scientific usage. In geology and paleontology, the year , with symbol a (from the Latin _annus_), is commonly used with metric prefixes: ka , Ma, and Ga. PRESENTATION PRONUNCIATION When an
The prefix _giga_ is usually pronounced in English as /ˈɡɪɡə/ , with hard〈g〉as in "get", but sometimes /ˈdʒɪɡə/ , with soft〈g〉as in "gin". TYPESETTING The
NON-STANDARD PREFIXES Distance marker on the
OBSOLETE METRIC PREFIXES Some of the prefixes formerly used in the metric system have fallen into disuse and were not adopted into the SI. The decimal prefix _myria- _ (sometimes also written as _myrio- _) (ten thousand) as well as the binary prefixes _double-_ and _demi-_, denoting a factor of 2 and 1/2 (one half ), respectively, were parts of the original metric system adopted by France in 1795. These were not retained when the SI prefixes were internationally adopted by the 11th CGPM conference in 1960. Further examples of metric prefixes used historically include hebdo- (107) and micri- (10−14). DOUBLE PREFIXES Double prefixes have been used in the past, such as _micromillimetres_ or "millimicrons" (now nanometres ), _micromicrofarads_ (now picofarads ), _kilomegatons_ (now gigatons ), _hectokilometres_ (now 100 kilometres ) and the derived adjective _hectokilometric_ (typically used for qualifying the fuel consumption measures). These were disallowed with the introduction of the SI. Other obsolete double prefixes included "decimilli-" (10−4), which was contracted to "dimi-" and standardized in France up to 1961. "HELLA" PREFIX PROPOSAL In 2010,
X, W AND V Brian C. Lacki follows Z and Y with the adopted prefixes X, W and V to mean 7027100000000000000♠1027, 7030100000000000000♠1030 and 7033099999999999999♠1033 respectively, thus continuing the inverse alphabetical order. SIMILAR SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS In written English, the symbol _K_ is often used informally to
indicate a multiple of thousand in many contexts. For example, one may
talk of a _40K salary_ (40000), or call the
The financial and general news media mostly use m/M, b/B and t/T as abbreviations for million, billion (109) and trillion (1012) for large quantities, typically currency and population. The medical and automotive fields in the United States use the abbreviations "cc" or "ccm" for cubic centimetres. 1 cubic centimetre is equivalent to 1 millilitre . For nearly a century, the electrical construction industry used the
abbreviation "MCM" to designate a "thousand circular mils " in
specifying thicknesses of large electrical cables . Since the
mid-1990s, "kcmil " has been adopted as the "official" designation of
a thousand circular mils, but the designation "MCM" still remains in
wide use. A similar system is used in natural gas sales in the United
States: m (or M) for thousands and mm (or MM) for millions of British
thermal units or therms , and in the oil industry, where 'MMbbl' is
the symbol for 'millions of barrels'. This usage of the capital letter
M for 'thousand' is from
BINARY PREFIXES In some fields of information technology, it has been common to
designate non-decimal multiples based on powers of 1024, rather than
1000, for some SI prefixes (kilo, mega, giga), contrary to the
definitions in the
SEE ALSO *
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