How is the HUMAN HAND used as a measuring tool?

A reader asked..

How is the HUMAN HAND as a measuring tool? help please i know it is used in measuring horses.

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    • N
    • April 23, 2011

    It is measured across the back of your hand and the measurement is 4 inches.

    • D.E.Bunker
    • April 23, 2011

    A “hand” is 4ins.. Horses are measured from the WITHERS down.
    & from the end of your thumb to the first joint is about an inch.
    & from the end of your fingers to the your nose is about a yard.

    • JOHN H
    • April 23, 2011

    Digit is a Latin word meaning finger. As a unit of length, the digit is currently standardized to be a sixteenth of a foot. In English the word “finger” or “fingerbreadth” is also a unit of length, although the finger length is slightly larger than the digit. From a practical standpoint, fingerbreadths can easily be used to measure by simply placing ones hand on an object and counting the number of fingerbreadths that cover a specific distance.
    The English word “inch” was derived from the Latin “uncial” meaning one twelfth, and the inch is defined to be a twelfth of a foot. The historical origin of the inch as a length is disputed, but there is evidence relating it to the average width of a man’s thumb. Other European languages have similarly sized anthropomorphic units with names directly derived from the word for thumb in that language, so it is reasonable to assume that the English inch is an anthropomorphic derivation of the thumb width.
    Palm and Hand
    Palm and hand, or handbreadth, have both historically been used in English to refer to specific lengths. The hand or handbreadth is currently standardized to be four inches, whereas the palm is standardized to be three.
    A shaftment is the width of the fist and outstretched thumb. The lengths of poles, staves, etc. can be easily measured by grasping the bottom of the staff with thumb extended and repeating such hand over hand grips along the length of the staff. The shaftment is currently standardized to be six inches, or half of a foot.
    A span is the width of a human hand, from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger. The span, from ancient times, has been considered to be 1/2 cubit (as described below). The span is currently standardized to be nine inches.
    of loops.
    Ell and Yard
    The ell (meaning arm) and yard are both anthropomorphic units with origins similar to the fathom described above. The English ell is the length from a hand to the opposing shoulder, currently standardized to be 45 inches. The yard is the distance from a hand to the center of the chest, currently standardized to be 36 inches. These lengths can be used to measure ropes and textiles using a technique similar to that described above for the fathom, but with slight variation. A fathom of rope is obtained by holding the rope taut between the hands with the hands outstretched as far as possible. An ell is obtained when the rope is held taut with the left hand outstretched to the left of the body, while the right hand is held close to the right shoulder. A yard is obtained when the left hand is outstretched to the left while the right hand is held near the center of the chest.

    John H

    • science teacher
    • April 23, 2011

    As you mentioned, a hand is a measurement for the height of a horse. hand is 4 inches.

    The inch and yard informtion given is correct.

    Many old time cooks can use their hand for measurements of ingredients. Needless to say hand size varies, so a cook needs to know what their hand size is. Then they can estimate a cup. In many countries what US measures in vollume, others use mass and a balance. The old time cooks also can easily estimate a teaspoon and tablespoon, but these take experience.

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