The kilometre (American spelling: kilometer), symbol km [For the purposes of compatibility with Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters there is a Unicode symbol for the kilometre, ㎞, (code 339E).] is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres.

Slang terms for kilometre include "click" (sometimes spelled "klick" or "klik") and "kay" (or "k"). [These non-standard terms can also refer to kilometres per hour.]


There are two different pronunciations for the word:
*IPA|/ˈkɪl.əˌmiː.tə(r)/ and
*IPA|/kɪˈlɒm.ə.tə(r)/.The former pronunciation follows the general pattern in English whereby metric units of measurement are pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, and preserves the correct pronunciation of "metre". However, the latter pronunciation; which follows the stress pattern used for the names of measuring instruments (such as "micrometer", "barometer", "thermometer", "tachometer" and "speedometer"); is in common usage. Kingsley Amis has suggested that this pronunciation (and the American spelling) be reserved for the thousand-measurer, the wall which Herodotus says Xerxes built around a thousand troops so he could count his army. ["The King's English": "Kilometre"; Herodotus 7, 60]

Equivalence to other units of length

International usage

The United Kingdom and the United States are the only two developed countries which continue to use miles on road signs.Fact|date=August 2008

Although the UK has officially adopted the metric system, there is no intention to replace the mile on road signs in the near future, owing to the British public's attachment to traditional imperial units of distance, i.e., miles, yards and inches, and the cost of changing speed signs (which could not be replaced during general maintenance, like distance signs, for safety reasons).cite news | author=Andrew Clark | title=Campaign for £80m switch to kilometres | date=2006-02-23 | publisher=The Guardian | url =,,1715807,00.html | accessdate = 2008-01-07] cite news | title=Call for metric road sign switch | date=2006-02-23 | publisher=BBC | url = | work =BBC News Online | accessdate = 2008-01-07] As of 11 September 2007, the EU has not challenged Britain's use of the imperial systems. EU commissioner Günter Verheugen said: "There is not now and never will be any requirement to drop imperial measurements."cite news | title=EU gives up on 'metric Britain' | date=2007-09-11 | publisher=BBC | url = | work =BBC News Online | accessdate = 2007-10-12]

In the US, the "National Highway System Designation Act of 1995" prohibits the use of federal-aid highway funds to convert existing signs or purchase new signs with metric units.cite web|url= |title=50th Anniversary of the Interstate Highway System - Frequently Asked Questions |accessdate=2007-10-12 |publisher=US Department of Transport ] However, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices since 2000 published in both metric and American Customary Units. (See also Metrication in the United States.)

Notes and references

ee also

*Conversion of units, for comparison with other units of length
*Cubic kilometre
*Orders of magnitude (length)
*SI prefix
*Square kilometre

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  • kilomètre — [ kilɔmɛtr ] n. m. • 1790; de kilo et mètre 1 ♦ Unité pratique de distance qui vaut mille mètres ( Marcher pendant des kilomètres. J ai fait cinq kilomètres à pied. ⇒fam. borne. Voiture qui fait 130 kilomètres à l heure, du 130… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Kilometre — Kilomètre Pour les articles homonymes, voir Kilomètre (homonymie). Le kilomètre (symbole km) est une unité de mesure de longueur valant 103 = 1 000 mètres. C est le multiple du mètre le plus fréquemment utilisé pour mesurer les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • kilometre — kil‧o‧me‧tre [ˈkɪləmiːtə, kɪˈlɒmtə ǁ kɪˈlɑːmtər] kilometer written abbreviation km noun [countable] a measurement of length equal to 1,000 metre S * * * kilometre UK US UK (US …   Financial and business terms

  • kilometre — (US kilometer) ► NOUN ▪ a metric unit of measurement equal to 1,000 metres (approximately 0.62 miles). DERIVATIVES kilometric adjective. USAGE The first pronunciation of kilometre, with the stress on the kil is considered the correct one,… …   English terms dictionary

  • kilometre — (n.) British English spelling of KILOMETER (Cf. kilometer); also see RE (Cf. re) …   Etymology dictionary

  • kilometre — (Brit.) n. (Km) unit of distance equalling one thousand meters (also kilometer) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • kilometre — is spelt metre in BrE and meter in AmE. The word is better pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, in line with other words for measures such as kilogram and millimetre, although pronunciation with the stress on the second syllable, on… …   Modern English usage

  • kilometre — is., mat., Fr. kilomètre 1000 m lik uzunluk ölçü birimi (km) On beş kilometre uzakta bir yerde, futbol maçı varmış, oraya gitti. S. F. Abasıyanık Birleşik Sözler kilometrekare kilometre taşı Atasözü, Deyim ve Birleşik Fiiller kilometre yapmak …   Çağatay Osmanlı Sözlük

  • Kilomètre — Le kilomètre (symbole km) est une unité de mesure de longueur valant 103 = 1 000 mètres. C est le multiple du mètre le plus fréquemment utilisé pour mesurer les distances terrestres (comme, par exemple, entre les villes). On définit… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kilometre — Kilometer Kil o*me ter, Kilometre Kil o*me tre, n. [F. kilometre. See {Kilogram}, and {Meter}.] A measure of length, being a thousand meters. It is equal to 3,280.84 feet, or 0.62137119 of a mile. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English