How Many Feet Are In a Mile?
In our latest article we're going to address the question of how many feet there are in a mile. Albert Einstein was once asked how many feet there are in a mile. His reply was "I don't know, why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?"
These days, we don't need a reference book - we have Google. And when you ask Google the question, you get the answer: 1 mile = 5280 feet. Should you wish to convert miles to feet or feet to miles, by the way, please feel free to use our length and distance converter. There's also a conversion chart at the bottom of the article.
Otherwise, do continue reading to learn why there's a bit more to the conversion than you might think. Here's Becky Kleanthous to explain in her usual humorous way...
Miles and feet
- Eminem's as-yet uncommissioned film
Gosh, we love miles don't we? We chuck 'em about like they're salt on chips, so casual, and so intangible.
The coffee shop? Oh, just a mile down the road. And we're all exhausted because we walked miles today! I was the fastest though, by a country mile. Still, when it comes to singing, everyone is miles better than I am.
And because we love to sweat the small stuff so you don't have to, this particular article is all about how many feet can squeeze into a mile. Now, we have to tread carefully here (feet! Tread! Feet! *Tap tap* Is this thing on...?!) because putting "feet", "sweat" and "squeeze" into one paragraph could see us cosily sharing search engine results with some questionable toe-photography content.
So, we love a mile, but do we even know what it is, really?
"But I would walk 26,400,000 feet,
and I would walk 26,400,000 more,
Just to be the man..."
- The Proclaimers' lesser-sung hit
Origins of the mile
The word comes from Latin ("mille"), because the Romans were excellent at organising stuff. It's no wonder they gave us concrete, central heating and the Fitbit (though one of those may not be true). Their love of logistics led to the conception of the classic Roman road, and even the method of measuring it.
"Mille" means a thousand, which gives you a clue about how the Roman measurement of "mille passum" - a thousand paces - was defined. But before you start comparing your own Fitbit stats and wondering what made Roman people's steps so short (because you walk a mile and it shows you about 2000 steps, right?), just hold your horses. It's not down to their unwieldy, restrictive armour, and it's not because these ancient people took dainty little steps to protect their modesty in skimpy togas. It's actually a thousand double paces: one stride with the left and right foot. So your stride is pretty much the same as a Roman's, even if it isn't performed at high speed towards a lion in an Amphitheatre (though charging at the last BLT in Starbucks is also admirable, of course).
The Roman mile, the total distance of the left foot hitting the ground 1000 times, was about 4860 feet in today's imperial units, but would have apparently been around 5000 Roman feet back in the day. Some people attribute this change to increasing foot size over the years, though it could just as well be a margin of error; we now have accurate measuring equipment, whilst 2000 years ago people were literally measuring. With. Their. Feet.
To add an extra layer of confusion, the modern mile is 5280 feet long, not 5000 or 4860. This is due to a translation problem. At the end of the 16th century, the English government were quite fond of the furlong (a measurement based on the daily plowing potential of a group of oxen). They therefore decided that a mile should be defined by furlongs, and that it would comprise eight. This made for some messy math/s, as a furlong measured 660 feet, so the mile got stretched out to 5280 feet in order to accommodate its fashionable pal, the furlong.
The TL;DR answer to all of this? A modern mile is 5280 imperial feet long. Think about it next time you put on your Fittum Bittus.
Written by Becky Kleanthous
Converting miles to feet
To assist you with converting miles to feet, I have included a chart below. Should you wish to convert a specific number of miles to feet or feet to miles, give the length and distance converter a try.
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Last update: 24 July 2018