Maltese units of measurement

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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[edit]

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.

Table of length units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
pulzier pulzieri 112 ~2.183 cm ~0.8594 in The Maltese inch. Exactly ​5564 imperial inches.
fitel iftla 12 ~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  516 imperial inches.
qasba qasab, qasbiet 8 ~2.096 m ~2.292 yd This is exactly ​82 12 inches, or 6 ft ​10 12 in. It corresponds to the fathom, but was used in both land and sea contexts.

Area[edit]

Land[edit]

In 1921, these units were redefined with respect to the British Imperial standard. These values reflect this change.

Table of area (land) units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
kejla kejliet 160 ~18.74 m2 ~22.41 sq yd
siegħ sigħan 16 ~187.4 m2 ~224.1 sq yd
tomna tomniet, or
tmien
1 ~1,124 m2 ~1344 sq yd exactly ​518 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 ​1 19 acres.
modd mdied 16 ~1.799 ha ~4.444 acres exactly ​4 49 acres

Square[edit]

Table of area (square) units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
pulzier kwadru pulzieri kwadri 1144 ~4.765 cm2 ~0.7385 sq in
fitel kwadru iftla kwadri 14 ~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[edit]

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 (~4.54609031 litres) is slightly larger than the modern definition (exactly 4.54609 litres).

Beer, wine, and spirits measure[edit]

None of the units from this group are mentioned in TY Maltese.

Table of volume (beer, wine, & spirits) units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
pinta pinet 18 ~142.1 ml 14 pt
terz terzi 14 ~284.1 ml 12 pt 'third'
nofs infas 12 ~568.3 ml 1 pt 'half'
kartoċċ krateċ 1 ~1.137 litres 2 pt
kwarta kwarti 4 34 ~5.398 L 9 12 pt 'quarter'
ġarra ġarar 9 12 ~10.8 L 2 38 gal
barmil bramel 38 ~43.19 L 9 12 gal 'barrel'

Milk and Oil measure[edit]

Table of volume (milk & oil) units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
kwartin kwartini 140 ~31.96 ml 1 18 fl oz 'quarter'. Referenced in 1921 Act only.
kejla kejliet 110 ~127.9 ml 4 12 fl oz 'measure' Referenced in 1921 Act only.
terz terzi 14 ~319.6 ml 11 14 fl oz 'third'
nofs infas 12 ~639.3 ml 22 12 fl oz, or
1 18 pints
'half'
kartoċċ krateċ 1 ~1.279 litres 2 14 pt
kwarta kwarti 4 ~5.114 L 9 pt, or
1 18 gal
'quarter'
qafiż qofża 16 ~20.46 L 4 12 gal Referenced in 1921 Act only.

Dry[edit]

None of these units are mentioned in TY Maltese. Note that there are two conflicting values for the siegħ (​110 and ​16 tomna, respectively).

Table of volume (dry) units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
lumin lumini 1600 ~30.31 ml ~1.849 cu in
kejla kejliet 160 ~303.1 ml ~18.49 cu in also called a mondell
siegħ sigħan 110 ~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 15 imperial pints.
għabara 16 ~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[edit]

Table of volume (cubic) units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
pulzier kubu pulzieri kubi 11728 ~10.4 ml ~0.6347 cu in
fitel kubu iftla kubi 18 ~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[edit]

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.

Note: there are two distinct units which are named kwart.
Table of mass units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Metric
value
Imperial
value
Notes
ottav ottavi 18 uqija ~3.307 g 760 oz 'eighth'. Referenced in 1921 Act only.
kwart kwarti 14 uqija ~6.615 g 730 oz 'quarter'. Referenced in 1921 Act only.
uqija ewieq 130 ~26.46 g 1415 oz The Maltese ounce.
kwart kwarti 14 ~198.4 g 7 oz 'quarter'. Referenced in Aquilina only.
ratal irtal 1 ~793.8 g 28 oz, or
1 34 lb
Sometimes called a rotola in English texts.
qsima qsimiet 1 14 ~992.2 g 35 oz, or
2 316 lb
Referenced in Aquilina only.
wiżna wiżniet 5 ~3.969 kg 8 34 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[edit]

Grano coin of 1726

This system was used during the rule of the Knights of St. John in Malta. Subsequent currencies in use were the pre-decimal British pound and the Maltese lira. Malta has now switched to using the euro.

Table of money units
Unit Plural Relative
value
Notes
grano grani 1
taro tari 20
scudo scudi 240

References[edit]