smoot

smoot (smo͞ot)
n. A unit of measurement equal to five feet, seven inches (1.7018 meters), often cited when discussing the inherent arbitrariness of measurement units.
[After Oliver Smoot, Jr. (born 1940), whose height was used as the basis for the measurement.]
Word History: Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have long been known for their playful pranks, which they call hacks. In 1958, members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity used one of their pledges, the 5′7" Oliver Smoot, Jr., as a unit of measure. They marked off the Harvard Bridge that connects Boston to MIT's campus in Cambridge in 10-smoot increments, using his body to make the measurement. Since then, the smoot marks have been assiduously maintained on the bridge, which measures 364.4 smoots, plus or minus one ear. Interestingly, Smoot went on to become the chair of the American National Standards Institute and president of the International Organization for Standardization.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Smoot — Smoot, WY U.S. Census Designated Place in Wyoming Population (2000): 182 Housing Units (2000): 63 Land area (2000): 1.710751 sq. miles (4.430824 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.710751 sq. miles …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Smoot, WY — U.S. Census Designated Place in Wyoming Population (2000): 182 Housing Units (2000): 63 Land area (2000): 1.710751 sq. miles (4.430824 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.710751 sq. miles (4.430824 …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Smoot — The smoot is a nonstandard unit of length created as part of an MIT fraternity prank. It is named after Oliver R. Smoot (class of 1962), a fraternity pledge to Lambda Chi Alpha, who in October 1958 was used by his fraternity brothers to measure… …   Wikipedia

  • Smoot — Vue du Harvard Bridge, en regardant vers Boston. Le smoot unité de longueur inhabituelle, créée de façon humoristique par des étudiants du MIT. Elle porte le nom d Oliver R. Smoot, un étudiant de l université, qui s allongea en octobre 1958 sur… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Smoot — Blick auf das MIT, mit der 260 Smoot Marke Smoot ist eine nichtstandardgemäße Maßeinheit, die aus einem Spaß einer Studentenverbindung entstanden ist. Benannt ist die Einheit nach Oliver R. Smoot, der im Oktober 1958 anlässlich eines… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • smoot —    a humorous unit of distance invented in 1958 by a fraternity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The fraternity pledges of Lambda Chi Alpha measured the length of Harvard Bridge using pledge Oliver R. Smoot ( 62). According to Smoot… …   Dictionary of units of measurement

  • smoot — smowt …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • smoot — noun /smuːt/ a) Defined as exactly sixty seven inches; equal to approximately 1.70 meters. b) A small opening built into a dry stone wall as a bolthole allowing a person to cross the wall while impeding the livestock …   Wiktionary

  • smoot — ˈsmüt noun ( s) Etymology: of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse smātta narrow lane; perhaps akin to Old English smūgan to creep more at smock dialect England : a narrow passageway; especially : one through which small animals may creep …   Useful english dictionary

  • Smoot (disambiguation) — Smoot may refer to:Things* A smoot, a jocular unit of measurement equal to 5 feet, 7 inches. * Smoot is a Web based tool for creating diagrams of icons and links between them.Fact|date=April 2008 * A smoot is a hole built into a wall to allow… …   Wikipedia

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