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An imperial pint of beer

The pint (abbreviated as "pt" or "p") is a unit of volume or capacity that was once used across much of Europe with values varying from state to state from less than half a litre to over one litre. Within continental Europe, the pint was replaced with the metric system during the nineteenth century. However, in the United States, the United Kingdom, and various other Commonwealth countries, the unit has continued to be in use. There is also limited use of the term in parts of France ("une pinte") and Central Europe, notably some areas in Germany and Switzerland.

The imperial pint (568 mL) is used in the United Kingdom and Ireland and to some extent in other Commonwealth nations. There are two customary pints used in the United States: a liquid pint (473 mL) and a less-common dry pint (551 mL). This difference dates back to the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824, which standardised the various pints in use at the time to a single imperial pint throughout the British Empire. The US pints were unaffected by this and can be traced back to pre-1824 English pints. Each of these pints are defined as one-eighth of the respective gallons but because of differing gallon definitions, the imperial pint is approximately 20% larger than the US liquid pint. However, whereas the imperial pint is divided into 20 imperial fluid ounces, there are 16 US fluid ounces to the US liquid pint making the imperial fluid ounce slightly smaller than the US fluid ounce.

Various Commonwealth countries, such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, converted to the metric system in the 1960s and 1970s; so while the term "pint" may still be in common use in these countries, it may not be the same as the imperial pint originally used throughout the Commonwealth. In the United Kingdom, the imperial system is still in use for certain purposes, and even though metric units are defined as the primary units in some specific circumstances, the pint is still defined as the primary unit for beer, cider and milk. A pint of beer served in a tavern outside of the United Kingdom and the United States may be an imperial pint, a US pint, or something different, depending on local laws and customs. [1]



Imperial pint

The imperial pint is equal to one eighth of an imperial gallon.[2]
1 imperial pint 18imperial gallon
12imperial quart
4imperial gills
20imperial fluid ounces
568.26125millilitres (exactly)[3][4] ≈568 mL
≈ 34.677429099cubic inches
≈ 1.2009499255US liquid pints
≈ 1.0320567435US dry pints
≈ the volume of 1+14 lb (567 g) of water at 62 °F (16.7 °C)

United States liquid pint

The United States liquid pint is equal to one eighth of a United States liquid gallon.[2] It is used commonly in the United States.
1 US liquid pint 18US liquid gallon
12US liquid quart
2US cups
4US fluid gills
16US fluid ounces
28.875cubic inches (exactly)[5]
473.176473millilitres (exactly)[6] ≈ 473 mL
≈ 0.83267418463imperial pints
≈ 0.85936700738US dry pints
≈ the volume of 1.041 lb (472 g) of water at 62 °F (16.7 °C)

United States dry pint

1 US dry pint 18US dry gallons
12US dry quarts
33.6003125cubic inches (exactly)
550.6104713575millilitres (exactly)[6] ≈ 551 mL
≈ 0.96893897192imperial pints
≈ 1.1636471861US liquid pints

Other pints

Labeled in English (1 US DRY PINT) and in French (1 CHOPINE SÈCHE US 551 mL) for sale in the US and Canada. The coin has a diameter of 1.04 inches (26 mm).
Blueberries labeled in English (1 US DRY PINT) and French (1 CHOPINE SÈCHE US 551 mL) for sale in the US and Canada.

The United States dry pint is equal to one eighth of a United States dry gallon. It is used in the United States but is not as common as the liquid pint.

A now-obsolete unit of measurement in Scotland known as the Scottish pint or joug equals three imperial pints. It remained in use until the 19th century, and survived significantly longer than most of the old Scottish measurements.

The French word pinte is etymologically related, but historically described a larger unit. The Royal pint (pinte du roi) was 48 French cubic inches (952.1 mL).[7] but regional pints varied in size depending on locality and on commodity (usually wine or olive oil) varying from 0.95 L to over 2 L.[7] Thus, in French Canada, une pinte refers, by federal law, to the imperial quart whereas the imperial pint is called une chopine.[8][9][10][11] Confusingly, in some parts of France and French Canada, une pinte is used to describe a 500 mL glass of beer.[citation needed]

In Flanders, the word pint, pintje, refers only to a 250 mL glass of lager. Some West- and East-Flemish dialects use it as a word for beaker. In the Netherlands, the word pint is used in the phrase pint bier or pintje bier, meaning a 500 mL glass of beer.[citation needed]


One US fluid pint of water weighs approximately one pound (16 ounces), resulting in the popular saying, "The pint's a pound, the world around." The saying is incorrect, since 1 US pint weighs 1.04375 pounds, and does not apply the world around, because the imperial pint used in Britain and its former colonies weighs 1.25 pounds. A different, but equally useful, saying for the imperial pint is "A pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter."


The pint is defined as one eighth of a gallon. Other versions of the gallon were defined for different commodities, and there were equally many versions of the pint.

America adopted the British wine gallon (defined in 1707 as 231 cubic inches exactly (3 × 7 × 11 in)) as its basic liquid measure, from which the US wet pint is derived, and the British corn gallon (18 of a standard "Winchester" bushel of corn, or 268.8 cubic inches) as its dry measure, from which the US dry pint is derived.

In 1824 the British parliament replaced all its variant gallons with a new imperial gallon based on ten pounds of distilled water at 62 °F (16.667 °C) (277.42 cubic inches), from which the UK pint is derived.

Effects of metrication

As part of the British and Irish metrication processes, the pint was replaced by metric units as the legally defined primary unit of measure for trading by volume or capacity, apart from for the sale of draught beer and cider and the sale of milk in returnable containers.[12] The pint can still be used in those countries as a supplementary unit in all circumstances. Local legislation in the both the UK and Ireland mandates the use of the pint as a measure for draught beer and cider (in pubs for instance). For milk, if returnable containers are used, the pint can still be the principal unit used, otherwise metric units (usually the non-SI litre) must be used. There is no requirement for the litre quantity to be round numbers; thus the quantity of milk sold in a non-returnable container may be 1 pint, but will have "568 ml 1 pint", or just "568 ml" on the label. Some recipes published in the UK and Ireland still provide ingredient quantities in imperial, where the pint is often used as a unit for larger liquid quantities.[citation needed] The Guild of Food Writers recommends that new recipes be published in metric units.[13]

The British Virgin Islands[citation needed] also require that beer and cider be sold in pints. also in Canada water amounts in air purifiers are advertised in pints as well as BTU("british thermal unit") see (metrication)

In Australia and New Zealand, a subtle change was made in 1 pint milk bottles during the conversion from imperial to metric in the 1970s. The height and diameter of the milk bottle remained unchanged, so that existing equipment for handling and storing such bottles was unaffected, but the shape was subtly adjusted to increase the capacity from 568 mL to 600 mL – a conveniently rounded metric measure. Such milk bottles are no longer officially referred to as pints. The pint glass in pubs in Australia (which is so called) remains closer to the standard imperial pint, at 570 mL. A pint of beer in Australia is served in a 570 mL glass with about 500 mL of beer and about 70 mL of froth, except in South Australia where a pint is served in a 425 mL glass and a 570 mL glass is called an imperial pint. In New Zealand, there is no longer any legal requirement for beer to be served in standard measures; in pubs, the largest size of glass, which is referred to as a pint, usually contains 450 mL.

Since metrication, the "pint of beer" served in Canadian pubs and bars has been considered a colloquial term for "a large glass of beer"; however, according to Measurement Canada, vendors advertising a pint should deliver 568.26 mL, however it is not law.[14]

A 375 mL bottle of liquor in the US and the Canadian maritime provinces is sometimes referred to as a "pint" and a 200 mL bottle is called a "half-pint", harking back to the days when liquor came in actual US pints, quarts, and half-gallons.[15] Liquor in the US has been sold in metric-sized bottles since 1980 although beer is still sold in US traditional units.[16]

In France, a standard 250 mL measure of beer is known as "a half" ("un demi" in French), originally meaning a half pint.


Pint comes from the Old French word pinte and perhaps ultimately from Latin picta meaning "painted", for a line painted on the side of a glass marking a one-pint volume of ale.[17]


  1. ^ American Journal of Physics, v.67(1), 1999-Jan, p.13-16, Romer,R.H.; Editorial: Units: SI only, or multi-cultural diversity?
  2. ^ a b Fifty imperial pints or sixty US liquid pints are both very close to one cubic foot.
  3. ^ after the 1985 (UK), c. 1964 (Canada), redefinition of the imperial gallon
  4. ^ Official text of the Units of Measurement Regulations 1995 (Schedule) as originally enacted or made within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
  5. ^ One US liquid gallon is defined as 231 cubic inches.
  6. ^ a b after the 1964 redefinition of the litre and the 1959 redefinition of the inch
  7. ^ a b Palaiseau, JFG (October 1816). Métrologie universelle, ancienne et moderne: ou rapport des poids et mesures des empires, royaumes, duchés et principautés des quatre parties du monde. Bordeaux. p. 8. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Measurement Canada
  9. ^ Mesures Canada
  10. ^ Weights and Measures
  11. ^ Poids et mesures.
  12. ^ Weights and measures, Business Link (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills),, retrieved 12 November 2011 
  13. ^ "Campaigns - Metrication". Guild of Food Writers. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Hobbs, Cloudesley (2004). "Get The Pint You Paid For!". The National Pist. Retrieved 2009-01-11. [dead link]
  15. ^ Elizabeth E. Epstein, Barbara S. McCrady. Overcoming Alcohol Use Problems: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program. Oxford University Press. p. 7. 
  16. ^ US Code title 27 Part 5
  17. ^ Harper, Douglas (2010). Pint. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved from pint.

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