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A Word A Day — furlong

Good morning, Netizens...


October 17, 2012

Word of the Day


  • audio pronunciation



  • \FER-lawng\





    : a unit of distance equal to 220 yards (about 201 meters)



    "They tramped on again. But they had not gone more than a furlong when the storm returned with fresh fury." — From J.R.R. Tolkien's 1954 book The Fellowship of the Ring

    "Trained by Ben Perkins Jr. and ridden by Pablo Fragoso, the 3-year-old colt ran the six furlongs on a fast track in 1:11 and paid $13.20, $4.80 and $3.40." — From an article from The Associated Press, July 14, 2012



    "Furlong" is an English original and can be traced back to Old English "furlang," a combination of the noun "furh" ("furrow") and the adjective "lang" ("long"). Though now standardized as a length of 220 yards (or 1/8th of a mile), the furlong was originally defined less precisely as the length of a furrow in a cultivated field. This length was equal to the long side of an acre—an area originally defined as the amount of arable land that could be plowed by a yoke of oxen in a day, but later standardized as an area measuring 220 yards (one furlong) by 22 yards, and now defined as any area measuring 4,840 square yards. In contemporary usage, "furlong" is often encountered in references to horse racing.

    From Merriam-Webster Online at



    Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.