Mileage/Kilometrage

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sdgraham

Senior Member
USA English
When renting (BE:hiring) a car in an English-speaking country that uses the metric system, what do you call the kilometers that are registered on the odometer?

The case in point is a car I rented at the Toronto, Canada, airport. When I returned it, the gent at the counter asked for the "mileage," but I said that it didn't have any. It only had kilometers.

I got a very, very blank stare. I was actually being serious, for a change.

So, this question is primarily aimed at English speakers with a relatively long history of metric usage, e.g. Australia.

There was a similar discussion at: mileage , but that was a bit different, since it regarded pre-rental conversations, not to mention that some UK members seemed to think that everybody should say "mileage" because it's in English, regardless of lack of technical accuracy.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I always think that the word mileage is perfectly OK. "The mileage on this car is 11,234 kilometres." "I get very good mileage out of my (French-registered) Opel."

    In these cases, I see mileage as not referring to 1760 yards, but as a synonym of distance travelled or distance-per-gallon.

    After all, you wouldn't hesitate to say that an excellent foreign car provided a good yardstick, or that a French film-maker produced good footage, would you?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Yardstick is a metaphor, true, but footage is physically real.

    Anyway, my point is that when a perfectly good English word exists, I don't feel I have to adopt a foreign one.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The case in point is a car I rented at the Toronto, Canada, airport. When I returned it, the gent at the counter asked for the "mileage," but I said that it didn't have any. It only had kilometers....not to mention that some UK members seemed to think that everybody should say "mileage" because it's in English, regardless of lack of technical accuracy.
    Did you ever stop to think that if you had done 1,600 Kms but were asked for the mileage, an honest answer of "1,000" would have saved 37.5%. :thumbsup:

    To avoid such things,
    "What has it got on the clock?";
    "What's the odometer reading" or
    "What distance have you done?"

    to which your answers could have been

    "Two hands and some numbers."
    "The New York Times."
    "You mean from birth?"

    :D
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I agree with KB on this: mileage doesn't particularly mean 'units of 1,760 yards' ~ it just means 'distance travelled'. I'd be happy to say I did a mileage of 631 kilometres last year in my car. [Actual figure!]
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    not to mention that some UK members seemed to think that everybody should say "mileage" because it's in English, regardless of lack of technical accuracy.
    QED

    Now if we can get some comments from Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis....:)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Our car's odometer/mileometer records kilometres. When I service the car I'm asked about the car's mileage. I'm expected to give a number in kilometres. No issue there. Agreeing with Keith and Ewie.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Given that the word mile comes ultimately from the Latin word for a thousand, it seems perfectly reasonable to me to use mileage to describe quantities of a thousand metres.
     

    whydoIneedanothername

    New Member
    English (Canada)
    I believe the question is about common useage, not etymology. After all, dictionaries are really only repositories of PAST common useage and may or may not reflect all current useage - dost thou understand? Any language has "anachronistic" words that fall out of common useage but are still recorded in dictionaries. All that being said, as you know in Canada (New Zealand and Ireland) distance is calculated in kilometres (kms). Odometers, maps, and everything else electronic at least have the default set in kilometres. But we say the mileage between Canadian cities is "x" kilometres and rental car mileage is provided in kilometres. I have rented cars in Ireland (Eire), Australia, England and New Zealand, and the same holds true. In Canada "kilométrage" is used by most francophones and understod by bilingual Canadians. So I don't think the answer has anything to do with consulting Her Majesty (lol), or late Latin (for which odometers didn't exist even on rented chariots), whether the odometers are in vehicles that drive on the left or right side of the roadway), or even result from the Canada/US Auto Pact. The fact is I have travelled much of the English-speaking world and have never heard anglophones use "kilometrage" in common speech.

    What is interesting though: the US spells it "kilometers" while the rest of us spell it "kilometres".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Almost unpronounceable! That's never going to catch on. (I blame Napoleon.)

    Re-reading, I note that in another post, sdgraham had no difficulty with dialling a number on his smartphone that lacks a dial. :D
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Our car's odometer/mileometer records kilometres. When I service the car I'm asked about the car's mileage. I'm expected to give a number in kilometres. No issue there. Agreeing with Keith and Ewie.
    In agreement:

    Mileage for kilometers — Pain in the English

    [...]My Canadian friends assure me they would indeed use the word mileage, at least in terms of cars. "The mileage on the car is 110,000 km." Were you thinking of non-car uses?
     
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