Metric system

The metric system of measurement is a base-ten system of measurement. It was developed in France in the late 1700s and is the major system of measurement in most of the world. One exception is the United States, where the U.S. customary system of measurement is used in most everyday situations.

Some of the units of the metric system are shown in the following table.


base units

The base unit for length is the meter.

The base unit for weight is the gram.

The base unit for capacity is the liter.


group 1 prefixes

Group 1 uses the Latin prefixes milli-, centi-, and deci-. These prefixes, added to words expressing measurement, indicate that the base unit has been divided by some multiple of 10. Note that all the units in Group 1 are smaller than the base unit.

1 millimeter = 0.001 meters

1 centimeter = 0.01 meters

1 decimeter = 0.1 meters


1 milligram = 0.001 grams

1 centigram = 0.01 grams

1 decimeter = 0.1 grams


1 milliliter = 0.001 liters

1 centiliter = 0.01 liters

1 decileter = 0.1 liters


group 2 prefixes

Group 2 uses the Greek prefixes deca-, hecto-, kilo-. These prefixes indicate that the base unit has been multiplied by some multiple of 10. Note that all the units in Group 2 are larger than the base unit.

1 decameter = 10 meters

1 hectometer = 100 meters

1 kilometer = 1,000 meters


1 decagram = 10 grams

1 hectogram = 100 grams

1 kilogram = 1,000 grams


1 decaliter = 10 liters

1 hectoliter =100 liters

1 kiloliter = 1,000 liters


Also called metric system, metric measurement system.

See also capacity, Celsius, centigrams, centiliters, centimeters, square centimeters, cubic unit, decigram, decaliter, decameter, gram, hectograms, hectoliters, hectometer, kilograms, kiloliters, kilometers, square kilometers, liter, square meters, ton, milligrams, milliliters, millimeters.