Pace (unit)

A pace is a unit of length consisting either of one normal walking step (~0.75 metres or 0.82 yards), or of a double step, returning to the same foot (~1.5 metres or 1.6 yards). Like other traditional measurements, paces started as informal units but have since been standardized, often with the specific length set according to a typical brisk or military marching stride.

In the US, it is an uncommon customary unit of length denoting a brisk single step and equal to 2 12 feet or 30.0 inches or 76.2 centimetres.[1][2] Pace also refers to the inverse unit of speed, used mainly for walking and running. The most common pace unit is minutes per mile.[3]

The term "pace" is also used to translate similar formal units in other systems of measurement. Pacing is also used as an informal measure in surveying, with the "pace" equal to two of the surveyor's steps reckoned through comparison with a standard rod or chain.

Other systems

The Roman pace (Latin: passus) was a Roman unit of length. It was notionally the distance of a full stride from the position of one heel where it raised off of the ground to where it set down again at the end of the step: two steps, one by each foot. Under Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, it was standardized as the distance of two steps (gradūs) or five Roman feet (pedes), about 1.48 meters or 4 feet 10 inches. There were 1000 paces in the Roman mile, which was named after that distance as the mille passus or passuum.

The Byzantine pace (Greek: βήμα, bḗma) was an adaption of the Roman step, a distance of 2½ Greek feet.[6] The double pace (βῆμα διπλοῦν, bḗma diploûn), meanwhile, was similar to the Roman unit, comprising 5 Greek feet.

The Welsh pace (Welsh: cam) was reckoned as 3 Welsh feet of 9 inches and thus may be seen as similar to the English yard: 3 paces made up a leap and 9000 a Welsh mile.

See also


  1. "Appendix G: Weights and Measures", The World Factbook, Washington: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013
  2. U.S. Army Map Reading and Navigation, p. 5.8, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2009 ISBN 1-60239-702-3.
  3. Differences - "Pace" vs. "Speed"
  4. Schilbach, Erich, Byzantinische Metrologie. (in German)
  5. Ménage, V.L. (1973), "Reviews: Speros Vryonis, Jr.: The decline of medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor and the process of islamization from the eleventh through the fifteenth century.", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 36, No. 3, University of London, pp. 659–661, JSTOR 613605
  6. Schilbach,[4] cited by Ménage.[5]
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