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A centimetre (the American spelling is centimeter, symbol cm) is a unit of length in the International System of Units (SI) measurement system. It is equal to one hundredth of a metre. Centi- is placed in front to say 'a hundredth'. The centimetre is the base unit of length in the old centimetre-gram-second (CGS) system of units.

The centimetre is usually used to measure things that are too big for millimetres but too small for metres. A centimetre is close to the length of a fingernail.

Similarities to other units of length

A carpenters' ruler with centimetre markings

1 centimetre is equal to:

  • 10 millimetres
  • 0.01 metre (1 metre is equal to 100 centimetres)
  • about 0.393700787401575 inch (1 inch is equal to 2.54 centimetres) [1]

1 cubic centimetre is equal to 1 millilitre, under the SI system of units.

Uses of centimetre

The centimetre is also used:

  • sometimes, to measure how much rain has fallen into by a rain gauge [2]
  • in maps, centimetres are used to change from map scale to real world scale (kilometres)

Unicode symbols

The centimetre has Unicode symbols so it can be written in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean characters. [3]

  • centimetre (㎝) - code 339D
  • square centimetre (㎠) - code 33A0
  • cubic centimetre (㎤) - code 33A4

They are placed into one character, and it is mostly used with East Asian fonts.