Etymology
Advertisement
mile (n.)

unit of linear measure in Great Britain, the U.S., and a few other countries, formerly used in most European countries before the metric system; Old English mil, from West Germanic *milja (source also of Middle Dutch mile, Dutch mijl, Old High German mila, German Meile), from Latin milia "thousands," plural of mille "a thousand" (neuter plural was mistaken in Germanic as a fem. singular), which is of unknown origin.

The Latin word also is the source of French mille, Italian miglio, Spanish milla. The Scandinavian words (Old Norse mila, etc.) are from English. An ancient Roman mile was 1,000 double paces (one step with each foot), for about 4,860 feet, but many local variants developed, in part in an attempt to reconcile the mile with the agricultural system of measurements. Consequently, old European miles were of various lengths. The medieval English mile was 6,610 feet; the old London mile was 5,000 feet. In Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, the Latin word was applied arbitrarily to the ancient Germanic rasta, a measure of from 3.25 to 6 English miles. In England the ordinary mile was set by legal act at 320 perches (5,280 feet) by statute in Elizabeth's reign.

In Middle English the word also was a unit of time, "about 20 minutes," roughly what was required to walk a mile. The word has been used generically since 1580s for "a great distance." Mile-a-minute (adj.) "very fast" is attested from 1957 in railroad publications (automobiles had attained 60 mph by 1903).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
milepost (n.)

also mile-post, "post set up to mark the distance by miles along a highway, etc.," 1768, from mile + post (n.1).

Related entries & more 
milestone (n.)

also mile-stone, "stone or pillar set up on a highway or other line of travel to mark the distance in miles," 1746, from mile + stone (n.).

Related entries & more 
milliary (adj.)

"pertaining to the ancient Roman mile," 1640s, from Latin milliarius, from mille (see mile (n.)). As a noun, "a milestone," c. 1600, from Latin milliarium.

Related entries & more 
mileage (n.)

formerly also milage, 1754, "allowance or compensation for travel or conveyance reckoned by the mile," originally in reference to American political representatives, from mile + -age. From 1837 as "fixed rate per mile," originally for use of railroad cars. Meaning "a total number of miles" (of a way made, used, or traversed) is from 1861; the figurative use in this sense, "usefulness, derived benefit" is by 1860. Of a motor vehicle, "miles driven per gallon of gasoline," by 1912.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
banlieue (n.)

French word for "suburbs, outskirts, outlying precincts of a town or city," 13c., from Vulgar Latin *banleuca, from Germanic *ban (see ban (n.1)) + leuca "a league" (of distance, in Medieval Latin, "indefinite extent of territory;" see league (n.2)). So, originally, "area around a town within which the bans — rules and proclamations of that place — were in force; territory outside the walls but within the legal jurisdiction." German had a similar formation, bann-meile (see mile (n.)), in the same sense; and compare Middle English bane cruces "crosses marking the boundary of territory subject to the edicts or laws of a certain ruler."

Related entries & more 
furlong (n.)
measure of distance of roughly 660 feet, from Old English furlang, originally the length of a furrow in a common field of 10 acres, from furh "furrow" (see furrow (n.)) + lang "long" (see long (adj.)). The "acre" of the common field being variously measured, the furlong varied but eventually was fixed by custom at 40 rods. Used from 9c. to translate Latin stadium (625 feet), one-eighth of a Roman mile, and so the English word came to be used for "one-eighth of an English mile," though this led to a different measure for the English mile than the Roman one. Furlong being so important in land deed records (where mile hardly figures) it was thought best to redefine the mile rather than the furlong, which was done under Elizabeth I.
Related entries & more 
long-haul (adj.)
1873, originally in railroad use, in reference to the relative length of transportation, which determined the rate paid for it (long hauls = lower rate per mile); see long (adj.) + haul (n.).
Related entries & more 
millet (n.)

type of cereal grain known from antiquity and cultivated in warm regions, early 15c. (late 14c. as mile), from Old French millet, millot, diminutive of mil "millet," from Latin milium "millet," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." Cognate with Greek meline, Lithuanian malnos (plural) "millet."

Related entries & more 
verst (n.)
Russian unit of distance measure equal to about two-thirds of a mile, 1550s, from Russian versta, related to Old Church Slavonic vrusta "stadium," vruteti (Russian vertet) "to turn," from Balto-Slavic *wirsta- "a turn, bend," from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."
Related entries & more