Minim (unit)

The minim (abbreviated min, or ) is a unit of volume in both the imperial and US customary systems of measurement. Specifically it is 160 of a fluid drachm[1] or 1480 of a fluid ounce.[2][3] In the Pharmacopoeia, it is also noted that the minim was originally created by Mr Timothy Lane, F.R.S., as 61440 parts per wine gallon.

The minim was introduced in the 1809 edition of The Pharmacopœia of the Royal College of Physicians of London as a replacement for the drop, which had previously been the smallest unit of the apothecaries' system.[4] It was observed that the size of a drop can vary considerably depending upon the viscosity and specific gravity of the liquid. (At the time, the phenomenon of surface tension was not well understood.) The minim, on the other hand, was measured with a graduated glass tube known as a "minimometer",[5] later known as the minim-tube.[6] The minim-tube was a type of graduated pipette, a device invented in 1791 by François-Antoine-Henri Descroizilles.

Apothecaries' measures are fully defined in the United Kingdom's Weights and Measures Act of 1878, but the UK's 1963 Weights and Measures Act provided for the abolition of the minim, fluid scruple, and fluid drachm, all already obsolete. Actual delegalization occurred on 1 February 1971.

The use of the minim, along with other such measures, has been reduced by the adoption of the metric system, and even in the least metricated countries, pharmacy is largely metricated and the apothecaries' system is deprecated. The unit may rarely persist in some countries in the measurement of dosages of medicine.


Imperial minimUS customary minim
1 imperial minim

= 1480 imperial fluid ounce

= 160 imperial fluid drachm
= 59.1938802083 microlitres (exactly)[7][8]
0.002001583 US fluid ounce
= 0.960759940 US fluid minims

1 US minim

= 1480 US fluid ounce
= 180 US teaspoon
= 160 US fluid drachm
= 61.611519921875 microlitres (exactly)[9]
0.002168422 imperial fluid ounce
= 1.040842731 imperial minims
= 0.003759765625 cubic inches (exactly)

References and notes

  1. also spelled fluidram or fluid dram
  2. CIA World Factbook
  3. Robert Thomas (médecin) (1819). The modern practice of physic, exhibiting the ... symptoms, prognostics, morbid appearances and improved method of treating the diseases of all climates... Longman. p. xv. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  4. Royal College of Physicians of London; Richard Powell (1809). The pharmacopoeia of the Royal College of Physicians of London, M. DCCC. IX. Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  5. Philological Society (Great Britain) (1814). The European magazine, and London review. Philological Society of London. p. 123. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  6. Clara S. Weeks-Shaw (1808). A text-book of nursing: for the use of training schools, families, and private students. D. Appleton. p. 107. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  7. "The Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 SCHEDULE RELEVANT IMPERIAL UNITS, etc". 20 September 2000. Retrieved 18 April 2006.
  8. The notation 3 indicates that the digit 3 is repeated infinitely.
  9. This assumes the international inch of exactly 25.4 millimetres. The US gallon of 231 cubic inches is the same as the English Wine gallon.
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