Somehow it never occurred to me before (unless I've forgotten) to wonder about the etymology of the word "mile."

In Adam Roberts's novel On, there's a moment when a character learns the meaning of a foreign word, "mile," as something like "thousands of arm-lengths." (Don't have the book handy for exact quote.)

Which immediately (because of the interesting linguistic context in which that passage appeared) led me to wonder if "mile" was derived from "thousand" in the real world. And, sure enough, it's from Latin milia passuum, meaning "thousands of paces." Nifty.

One Response to “mile”

  1. kscott

    I think mile comes from mille (1000)sets of stride pairs e.g.two steps or count only when the same foot hits the floor again. 1000 single steps is a long way short of the modern mile. A step is a normally a little short of a yard, one mile = 1760 yards approx 1000 pairs of steps. Of course, this would fit in with the Roman occupation period.


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