Minor British Institutions: The pint

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The Independent Online

Now that the vast majority of the population have been brought up "in metric" it is odd, and telling, that when it comes to the more folksy end of things – people's height, distances, football and beer – the imperial measurements of feet, miles, yards and pints persist.

Of these, the pint is now the most in jeopardy, pretty much surviving only in pubs, themselves under some pressure. It deserves to. Generations of drinkers can testify that the pint is a natural sort of quantity, not so large as to be unwieldy, yet not so small as to be unmanly, and a full pint glass is (usually) a gravitationally stable affair.

Ironically, given the Europeanisation of British life, the term pint derives from the Old French pinte, and has been current here since the 14th century. In 1824 a pint was defined as one eighth of a gallon, being 10lbs of distilled water at 62F. (Not to be confused with the truly obsolescent Scottish pint, or joug, which was about three imperial pints. No further comment on that.)

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