Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lexicon -- 'Mil'

'Mil' ought not to be used as an abbreviation for 'millimetre'. The word 'mil' was long ago taken by inch measure to mean one one-thousandth of an inch (0.001").

The use of 'mil' is mostly confined to wire measure, as in 'circular mil'; i.e. a wire having a diameter of one mil (0.001") would represent one circular mil. Any wire diameter can be expressed as an equivalent bundle of circular mils. The unit is useful for establishing and expressing characteristics of electrical wiring material.

There really is no good abbreviation for 'millimetre' in speech. Just say 'millimetre' out in full when you mean to say 'millimetre', and no one will misinterpret. In writing, 'mm' is the universally accepted abbreviation for millimetre, never 'MM'.

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