23 Unusually Odd Measurement Units People Actually Use


A Canard is a standard unit of quackery. The Quackery index measures dubious health claims by how often words like ‘energy’, ‘holistic’, ‘vibrations’, ‘magnetic healing’, and ‘quantum’ are used in conjunction with other more skeptical words.

12Donkey Power

Donkey Power, an engineering unit is defined as 250 watts, about a third of a horsepower.


The strangely named sydharb is a rough measurement for a large volume of water. It’s named after Sydney Harbor. One sydharb is roughly the amount of water in Sydney’s harbor area, about 562,000 mega-liters during high tide. The unit has never gained popularity outside of Australia.


In computing, the jiffy is the duration of one tick of the system timer interrupt. Typically, this time is 0.01 seconds, though in some earlier systems the jiffy was defined as 1⁄60 of a second.

15Toyota Prius

One Toyota Prius is a unit of weight that is used to measure the total amount lifted by a weight-lifter. It weighs approximately 1325 kg (2921 lb).

16Banana equivalent dose

Bananas, like most organic material, naturally contain a certain amount of radioactive isotopes even in the absence of any artificial pollution or contamination. This amount is roughly 0.1 microsieverts (a Sievert is a standard for measuring the biological effect of radiation). For instance, to receive the amount of radiation Japan’s Fukushima disaster leaked, you’d have to eat 76 million bananas.


A buttload is a real unit of measurement that is used for reasons that aren't always juvenile. A butt is actually a traditional unit of volume that is used for wines and other alcoholic beverages. A butt is defined to be 2 hogsheads, which in the US is 63 gallons. So a buttload is when you have a ton of booze and you don't want to count in hogsheads.

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ASTA (American Spice Trade Association) pungency unit is based on a scientific method of measuring chili pepper “heat.” Most people are familiar with the Scoville scale, which measures the hotness of chili peppers. However, this scale is kind of inaccurate. ASTA technique utilizes high-performance liquid chromatography to identify and measure the concentrations of the various compounds that produce a heat sensation.

19World Peace and Stability Index

World Peace and Stability Index is a measure of stability and/or volatility of the world on a particular day. It is calculated as the 'number of times CNN news channel repeats a tape. Zero indicates a turbulent world with a lot of disturbing events going on in various parts. A high value signifies there are not many major events and the world is mostly peaceful.


Oliver R. Smoot was 5’7” in 1958 when his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, used him to measure the Harvard Bridge. The bridge is 364.4 Smoots long +/- 1 ear. If needed, Google Earth can also provide measurements in smoots in addition to miles and kilometers. Perhaps coincidentally, Oliver Smoot later became the chairman of ANSI (American National Standards Institute) which coordinates standard measurements.

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