Created By: somerandomdude on February 11, 2012

Metric Is Fancy

In American works, using the metric system is viewed as "fancy" or "posh."

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Americans normally use American Customary Measurements in everyday life. However, the metric system is far from unknown there, as it's often used in scientific publications and naturally in media from other countries that use metric.

Particularly the former, however, leads to using the metric system being viewed as "fancy"; it's what them fancy scientists use, after all. This combined with its association with Europe (where a large chunk of non-American media that Americans consume comes from), which is often viewed as fancy in the US as well, creates the impression that use of metric is posh. As a result, characters such as the Insufferable Genius will often use metric measurements in American media.

Ironically, in many parts of the world where metric is the standard, the reverse is actually true, with Imperial measurements being viewed as "fancy" or "posh," but in the same sense that using Flowery Elizabethan English is viewed as such.

Seen It a Million Times


  • In Spongebob Squarepants, during the episode where Patrick becomes a genius, he begins not only talking in a British accent, but also using metric measurements.
    Patrick: If I landed here, the trajectory of my landing would have caused my brain to land not there, but here; exactly 5 meters due north!
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • February 11, 2012
    I've never seen anything like that. The only American-made works I've seen that even used metric units were sci-fi, and everyone used them in those cases.
  • February 11, 2012
    Really? I've seen this quite a lot, though I can't remember any specific examples...
  • February 11, 2012
    ^ The closest thing I can think of is a dissection of a Chick Tract where the recently-saved christian now has a glowing ruler-like aura, but is disappointed when he find out it's metric.
  • February 11, 2012
    There's an inverse example in Harry Potter, a British based work. The wizards all use the American measuring system. According to Word Of God, this was done to make the wizarding community seem quirky and whimsical.
  • February 11, 2012
    I've never seen metric used as a fancy way of describing things, though all too often I've seen it portrayed as confusing. Truth In Television as most Americans are not very handy with metric.
  • February 11, 2012
    "*gasp* It fits! Then you must know that I'm..." "Metric? I've always known. But for you, darling, I'm willing to convert." Smooth as always, Calculon.
  • February 11, 2012
    And yet, the two-liter bottle is an accepted size for soda containers in the US, while milk is sold in gallons and half-gallons. Odd, that.
  • February 11, 2012
    I thought Patrick was just using metric because he was performing physics calculations and scientists regardless of nationality use metric.
  • February 11, 2012
    I don't think "the American measuring system" is the best way to describe what Wizards in Harry Potter use. They use the British imperial units. After all American Customary Measurements is for the most part just another word for the old Brit system, with very minor difference. Anyone born prior to the 1960's in England would have grown up under the old system of measurements. Even now, it is still in widespread use.

    Also, metric turns up a lot in military fiction, because it is the standard for most military purposes.

    I don't think "posh" or "fancy" really describes how American view metric. "Foreign", "scientific" and "technical" would be better.
  • February 11, 2012
  • February 12, 2012
    I am an American, and I also can't remember ever seeing this.

    I agree that in American media metric is seen as being confusing/foreign/scientific/technical.