Gill (unit)

The gill /ˈɪl/ or teacup is a unit of measurement for volume equal to a quarter of a pint. It is no longer in common use, except in regard to the volume of alcoholic spirits measures.

In imperial units
1 imperial gill ≡ 5 imperial fluid ounces
132 imperial gallon
14 imperial pint
≡ 142.0653125 mL[lower-alpha 1]
≈ 142 mL
≈ 1.2 US gills
= 40 Imperial fluid drams
12 Imperial cups
≈ 8.67 in3
In United States customary units
1 US gill ≡ 4 US fl oz
132 US gallon
14 US pint
12 US cup
≡ 8 tablespoons
≡ 24 teaspoons
≡ 32 US fluid drams
≡ 7732 in3
≡ 118.29411825 mL[lower-alpha 2]
≈ 118 mL
56 imperial gills
Copper gill-measuring jugs

In Great Britain, the standard single measure of spirits in a pub was 16 gill (23.7 mL) in England, and 15 gill (28.4 mL) in Scotland, while the 14 gill (35.5 mL) was also a common measure in Scotland, and still remains as the standard measure in pubs in Ireland.

After metrication, this was replaced by measures of either 25 or 35 millilitres (0.176 or 0.246 gi), at the discretion of the proprietor.

A spirit measure in the Isle of Man is still defined as 15 gill (28.4 mL).[1][2]

Half of a gill is a jack, or an eighth of a pint.[3] But in northern England, a quarter pint could also be called a jack or a noggin, rather than a gill, and in some areas a half pint could be called a gill, particularly for beer and milk.[4][5][6]

In Ireland, the standard spirit measure was historically 14 gill. In the Republic of Ireland, it still retains this value, though it is now legally specified in metric units as 35.5 mL.

In Scotland, there were additional sizes:[7]

  • big gill = 1+12 gills (213 mL)
  • wee gill = 34 gill (107 mL)
  • wee half gill = 38 gill (53 mL)
  • nip=14 gill (36 mL)

There are occasional references to a gill in popular culture, such as in:


  • In L. Frank Baum's The Patchwork Girl of Oz, one of the ingredients required for a magic spell is a gill of water from a dark well. In chapter 19, the obscure unit is used for humor including a pun with the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill", which also involved a well.
  • In George Orwell's Animal Farm, Moses the Raven is allotted a gill of beer a day after he returns, with the implication that this is part of his payment for supporting the farm leaders, the pigs.
  • Dan Simmons' novel, The Terror (2007), makes frequent references to gills of grog and rum.
  • In Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island there are uses of the measure gill, with Israel Hands drinking a gill of brandy in the chapter 'I Strike the Jolly Roger'. In "Kidnapped" the protagonist, David Balfour, is "forced" "to drink about a gill" of brandy.


  • The cumulative song "The Barley Mow".[8]
  • The traditional English folk song "Byker Hill" begins with the words, "If I had another penny, I would have another gill."
  • The Fall's song "Edinburgh Man" contains the line "Keep me away from the Festival and just give me a warm quarter-gill."


  • A gill is also referenced in Archer season 2, episode 3 ("Blood Test") when Barry explains to Archer that a litre is, "about 8 gills" (the word gill is mispronounced in this exchange). (Eight gills would be 40 imp fl oz, or 1.1 L.)
  • In "Bart the Genius," an episode of The Simpsons, a child tricks Bart by offering, "I'll trade you 1,000 picolitres of my milk for four gills of yours." (A picolitre is a trillionth of a litre, so Bart is losing almost a pint of milk in this exchange.)


Because of its more widely used homograph, gill has sometimes been mispronounced with a hard 'g' sound.

  • FX's animated cartoon Archer, mispronounced gill in the episodes "Blood Test" (Season 2, Episode 3)[9] and "Heart of Archness: Part Three" (Season 3, Episode 3).[10]


  1. after 1985 in the UK, c. 1964 in Canada
  2. after 1964 redefinition of litre and 1959 redefinition of inch


  1. "Changes to Isle of Man alcohol measurements scrapped". BBC News. March 8, 2013.
  2. "1/5 Gill Shot Glass Government Stamped". Gellings.
  3. Klein, Herbert Arthur (1974). The Science of Measurement: A Historical Survey. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 0-486-25839-4. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. Griffiths, Samuel (1873). Griffiths' Guide to the Iron Trade of Great Britain. Griffith. p. 292.
  5. O'Gorman, Daniel (1853). Intuitive calculations; the readiest and most concise methods. Manchester. p. 50.
  6. International Dictionary of Food and Cooking by Charles Gordon Sinclair, ISBN 1-57958-057-2, published by Taylor & Francis, 1998
  7. Purves, James (1903). "The Scottish Licensing Laws". Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  8. "Good Luck to the Barley Mow, lyrics and audio". Retrieved 2011-02-14.
  9. VanDerWerff, Emily. "Archer: "Blood Test"".
  10. VanDerWerff, Emily. "Archer: "Heart Of Archness, Part Three"".
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