Definition:Metric System/Length/Centimetre

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Centimetre

The centimetre is the CGS base unit of length.

 $\ds$  $\ds 1$ centimetre $\ds$ $=$ $\ds 10$ millimetres $\ds$ $=$ $\ds 10 \, 000$ microns $\ds$ $=$ $\ds 0 \cdotp 01$ metres $\ds$ $=$ $\ds 0.3937$ inches

Symbol

$\mathrm {cm}$

The symbol for the centimetre is $\mathrm {cm}$:

$\mathrm c$ for centi
$\mathrm m$ for metre.

Its $\LaTeX$ code is \mathrm {cm} .

Square Centimetre

The square centimetre is the CGS unit of area.

The symbol for the square centimetre is $\mathrm {cm}^2$ or (the informal and ugly) $\mathrm {sq}. \ \mathrm {cm}$.

Cubic Centimetre

The cubic centimetre is the CGS unit of volume.

The symbol for the cubic centimetre is $\mathrm {cm}^3$ or (informally) $\mathrm {cc}$.

Historical Note

The centimetre was initially defined as:

$10^{-9}$ the distance from the Earth's equator to the North Pole at sea level

that is:

$\frac 1 {100}$ the length of a metre.

Its importance as one of the base units of the CGS system has waned, as the MKS system has supplanted it in importance.

Linguistic Note

The spelling centimetre is the one adopted by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Centimeter is the variant used in standard American English.

See the linguistic note on metre.