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Metric System Prefixes Chart

Metric System Prefixes Chart

To understand the metric system, the prefixes chart comes in handy. The metric system prefixes are also known as metric prefixes or SI prefixes. Scroll down this article to gain more information about this subject.
Bhakti Satalkar
There are different measurement systems used all over the world. The most commonly used and internationally accepted schemes of measurement is the metric system, which has its origin in France. It was adopted officially in this country in the year 1791, and it is a decimal system of measurement. Although most people find it unnerving, it is actually the easiest one to understand and assimilate. The International System of Units has adopted this system in the 1960s. Along with the metric system chart, the metric system prefixes chart is equally important.
Metric System Chart
Conversions involved in this system consist of three basic units: meter, gram, and liter. The unit of measurement used for weight is gram. Meter is the unit used for measuring length, while the unit for liquid measurement is liter. To these basic units, different prefixes are affixed, which ensure that no conversion from one unit to another has to be undertaken. The standard set of prefixes are in powers of ten. Using the positive as well as negative powers of ten, the larger and smaller units are derived from the basic ones.
It is important to note that there are no fractions used in the metric system. Likewise, there also isn't any use of decimal units to measure time; multiples and sub multiples of seconds are used to describe time. The prefixes like mega and nano are affixed before the 'seconds' to denote the smaller time units. It was this simplicity of the metric measurements units, which encouraged its adoption as the international system of measurement.
The metric prefixes indicate that the basic unit has either been multiplied or divided by a factor of ten. It can either be a positive or a negative factor of ten. These prefixes, which are used from the lowest to the highest value are as follows:
  • Milli-
  • Centi-
  • Deci-
  • Meter/Gram/Liter
  • Deca-
  • Hecto-
  • Kilo-
Metric System Prefixes Chart
In the metric system conversion table, the given values consist of both positive and negative powers of 10. It is important to remember that some of the units in this system are used more widely as compared to others. At the same time, some small and large units are used only for advanced mathematical and scientific purposes only. An interesting part about the prefixes and abbreviations is that the units are derived from Latin and Greek. The positive powers are derived from Greek, while the negative powers are derived from Latin. The only exception is 'micro', which is a Greek word. It was only after the introduction of the metric system, the Greek 'greater than one' and Latin 'less than one' conversions went out of circulation.
Symbol Prefix 10n Multiplication Factor In Words
Y yotta 1024 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 septillion
Z zetta 1021 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 sextillion
E exa 1018 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 quintillion
P peta 1015 1,000,000,000,000,000 quadrillion
T tera 1012 1,000,000,000,000 trillion
G giga 109 1,000,000,000 billion
M mega 106 1,000,000 million
k kilo 103 1,000 thousand
h hecto 102 100 hundred
da deca 101 10 ten
100 1 one
d deci 10-1 0.1 tenth
c centi 10-2 0.01 hundredth
m milli 10-3 0.001 thousandth
ยต micro 10-6 0.000,001 millionth
n nano 10-9 0.000,000,001 billionth
p pico 10-12 0.000,000,000,001 trillionth
f femto 10-15 0.000,000,000,000,001 quadrillionth
a atto 10-18 0.000,000,000,000,000,001 quintillionth
z zepto 10-21 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,001 sextillionth
y yocto 10-24 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 septillionth
The above chart will help in converting different units of measurements, both for adults, as well as kids. Using this table along with the metric system chart will result in a better understanding of the metric system.