Why Is A Fifth Called A Fifth?

Have you ever been in a situation where you are asked “Why is a fifth called a fifth?” and you find yourself standing there, unable to answer? If yes, then don’t worry.

You have come to the right place! In this article, we will explore the answer to this fascinating question.

We’ll discover the historical roots of why and how a fifth is called afifth. So, if you are intrigued by the answer to this intriguing question, read on to find out more!

Why is a Fifth Called a Fifth?

Have you ever wondered why a fifth-sized alcoholic beverage is referred to as a “fifth?

” This measurement is one of only three common alcohol measurements in the United States and one of the only forms of liquid measurement labeled with a cardinal number. The answer to this question lies in the history of English measurement. Let’s dive in and find out why a fifth is called a fifth.

The History of English Units of Measurement

English and American customary units of measurement have roots that date back to the Middle Ages. In the 1300s, the British began adopting a series of measurements, known as Winchester measures.

These measures were set by King Edward I of England in 1285, and were based off of his own body measurements. These measurements, in turn, became the basis for the English units of measurement.

Measurement: ‘The Fifth’

One of the Winchester measures was the firlot, which was a dry measure of roughly 8 gallons.

Over time, this became the gallon, and was eventually divided into 5 parts. Each of these parts was referred to as a “fifth” of a gallon.

This is where we get the phrase “a fifth,” when referring to a fifth-sized alcoholic beverage.

Metric Measurements

Today, the metric system is used in most countries, and most measurements and services are standardized. However, there are still some units of measurement, particularly in the United States, that still use English units.

This includes the measurement of alcohol. In most states, the fifth-sized bottle of alcohol is typically 750 milliliters, which roughly equates to 51 imperial pints, or 0. 83 of a modern-day gallon.


As you can see, the phrase “a fifth” stems from British units of measurement from the Middle Ages, and is still in use today in the United States for measuring alcohol. Next time you pick up a fifth of your favorite liquor, you’ll know exactly why it’s called a fifth. Citation URL:https://www. icumsa. org/glossary/what-is-a-furlot/https://www. pintsandquarts. com/history-of-english-units-of-measurement/https://us. legalmetrology. com/history-of-legal-measurement/

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