Maltese units of measurement
In modern usage, metric is used almost exclusively in commercial transactions. These units are mostly historical, although they are still used in some limited contexts and in Maltese idioms and set phrases. Many of these terms are directly related to Arabic units and some to Sicilian units. The Weights and Measures Ordinance of 1921 established uniformity in the conversion of such weights and measures. All these measures were defined as simple multiples of the Imperial units then in use in Britain.
Length
Length units were typically used for measuring goods and building sizes. Distances were traditionally measured in terms of travel time, which explains the lack of large scale units.
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
pulzier | pulzieri | 1/12 | ~2.183 cm | ~859.4 thou | The Maltese inch. Exactly ^{55}⁄_{64} imperial inches. |
fitel | iftla | 1/2 | ~13.1 cm | ~5.156 in | The Maltese hand-span. This unit is not in the 1921 act. |
xiber | xbar | 1 | ~26.19 cm | ~10.31 in | The Maltese foot. Exactly 10 ^{5}⁄_{16} imperial inches. |
qasba | qasab, qasbiet | 8 | ~2.096 m | ~2.292 yd | This is exactly 82.5 inches, or 6 ft 10.5 in. It corresponds to the fathom, but was used in both land and sea contexts. |
Area
Land
In 1921, these units were redefined with respect to the British Imperial standard. These values reflect this change.
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
kejla | kejliet | 1/60 | ~18.74 m² | ~22.41 sq yd | |
siegħ | sigħan | 1/6 | ~187.4 m² | ~224.1 sq yd | |
tomna | tomniet, or tmien |
1 | ~1,124 m² | ~1344 sq yd | exactly 5/18 acre, or 12,100 square feet. This unit is also exactly 256 qasba kwadru. Sometimes called a tumolo in English texts. Also called Tumoli with modern real estate agents Cf. dunam. |
wejba | wejbiet | 4 | ~4497 m² | ~1.111 acres | exactly 10/9 acres. |
modd | mdied | 16 | ~1.799 ha | ~4.444 acres | exactly 40/9 acres |
Square
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
pulzier kwadru | pulzieri kwadri | 1/144 | ~4.765 cm² | ~0.7385 sq in | |
fitel kwadru | iftla kwadri | 1/4 | ~171.5 cm² | ~26.59 sq in | |
xiber kwadru | xbar kwadri | 1 | ~686.1 cm² | ~106.3 sq in | |
qasba kwadra | qasab kwadri, or qasbiet kwadri |
64 | ~4.391 m² | ~5.252 sq yd | an area 1 qasba by 1 qasba |
Volume
These units were all (except for the cubic units) defined in 1921 relative to the British Imperial gallon, which was defined in the 1824 act. This is equal to 10 pounds of water at a specified temperature and air pressure. This (~4.546 090 31 litres) is slightly larger than the modern definition (exactly 4.546 09 litres).
Beer, wine, and spirits measure
None of the units from this group are mentioned in TY Maltese.
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
pinta | pinet | 1/8 | ~142.1 ml | 0.25 pt | |
terz | terzi | 1/4 | ~284.1 ml | 0.5 pt | 'third' |
nofs | infas | 1/2 | ~568.3 ml | 1 pt | 'half' |
kartoċċ | krateċ | 1 | ~1.137 litres | 2 pt | |
kwarta | kwarti | 4.75 | ~5.398 L | 9.5 pt | 'quarter' |
ġarra | ġarar | 9.5 | ~10.8 L | 2.375 gal | |
barmil | bramel | 38 | ~43.19 L | 9.5 gal | 'barrel' |
Milk and Oil measure
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
kwartin | kwartini | 1/40 | ~31.96 ml | 1.125 fl oz | 'quarter'. Referenced in 1921 Act only. |
kejla | kejliet | 1/10 | ~127.9 ml | 4.5 fl oz | 'measure' Referenced in 1921 Act only. |
terz | terzi | 1/4 | ~319.6 ml | 11.25 fl oz | 'third' |
nofs | infas | 1/2 | ~639.3 ml | 22.5 fl oz, or 1.125 pints |
'half' |
kartoċċ | krateċ | 1 | ~1.279 litres | 2.25 pt | |
kwarta | kwarti | 4 | ~5.114 L | 9 pt, or 1.125 gal |
'quarter' |
qafiż | qofża | 16 | ~20.46 L | 4.5 gal | Referenced in 1921 Act only. |
Dry
None of these units are mentioned in TY Maltese. Note that there are two conflicting values for the siegħ (1/10 and 1/6 tomna, respectively).
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
lumin | lumini | 1/600 | ~30.31 ml | ~1.849 cu in | |
kejla | kejliet | 1/60 | ~303.1 ml | ~18.49 cu in | also called a mondell |
siegħ | sigħan | 1/10 | ~1.818 L | ~111 cu in | This is the value listed for the siegħ by Aquilina. The 1921 Act has a different value. This amount is exactly 3.2 imperial pints. |
għabara | 1/6 | ~3.031 L | ~184.9 cu in, or ~0.107 cu ft |
Referenced in Aquilina only. The 1921 Act uses this value for the siegħ, and does not mention the għabara by name. | |
tomna | tmien, or tomniet |
1 | ~18.18 L | ~0.6422 cu ft | Sometimes called the tumolo in English texts. This is exactly 4 imperial gallons. |
modd | mdied | 16 | ~290.9 L | ~10.27 cu ft, or ~0.3805 cu yd |
'weigh'. An alternate name given by Aquilina is the salma. This is exactly 64 imperial gallons. |
Cubic
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
pulzier kubu | pulzieri kubi | 1/1728 | ~10.4 ml | ~0.6347 cu in | |
fitel kubu | iftla kubi | 1/8 | ~2.246 L | ~137.1 cu in | |
xiber kubu | xbar kubi | 1 | ~17.97 L | ~1097 cu in | |
qasba kubu | qasab kubi, or qasbiet kubi |
512 | ~9.202 kl | ~12.04 cu yd | a volume 1 qasba by 1 qasba by 1 qasba |
Mass
All the Maltese mass units were redefined relative to the British Imperial ton in 1921. Before this, the units were presumably based on an Arabic standard. All equivalent measures listed in pounds below are exact values.
nb. There are two distinct units which are named kwart.
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Metric value |
Imperial value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|---|---|
ottav | ottavi | 1/8 uqija | ~3.307 g | ~0.1167 oz | 'eighth'. Referenced in 1921 Act only. |
kwart | kwarti | 1/4 uqija | ~6.615 g | ~0.2333 oz | 'quarter'. Referenced in 1921 Act only. |
uqija | ewieq | 1/30 | ~26.46 g | ~0.9333 oz | The Maltese ounce. |
kwart | kwarti | 1/4 | ~198.4 g | 7 oz | 'quarter'. Referenced in Aquilina only. |
ratal | irtal | 1 | ~793.8 g | 28 oz, or 1.75 lb |
Sometimes called a rotola in English texts. |
qsima | qsimiet | 1.25 | ~992.2 g | 35 oz, or 2.1875 lb |
Referenced in Aquilina only. |
wiżna | wiżniet | 5 | ~3.969 kg | 8.75 lb | Referenced in Aquilina and TY Maltese. Not mentioned in 1921 Act. |
qantar | qnatar | 100 | ~79.38 kg | 175 lb | |
peżata | 300 | ~238.1 kg | 525 lb | Referenced in 1921 Act only. |
Money
This system was used during the rule of the Knights of St. John in Malta. Subsequent currencies in use are the pre-decimal British Pound and the Maltese lira. Malta has now switched to using the Euro.
Unit | Plural | Relative value |
Notes |
---|---|---|---|
grano | grani | 1 | |
taro | tari | 20 | |
scudo | scudi | 240 |
References
- Maltese-English Dictionary, appendix 10, p1658, by Aquilina, published by Midsea Books Ltd. No ISBN available.
- Teach Yourself Maltese, pp125–6
- Att dwar il-Metroloġija Kap. 454