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The kilometre (American spelling: kilometer), symbol km[1] is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres and is therefore exactly equal to the distance travelled by light in free space in 1299 792.458 of a second.[2] It is the conventionally used measurement unit for expressing distances between geographical places in most of the world; notable exceptions are the United States and the United Kingdom where the statute mile is used.

A slang term for the kilometre in the military is klick and in common speech involving distance it is often abbreviated as simply a k (kay).[3][4] [5] [6]



There are two pronunciations for the word:

The former pronunciation follows the general pattern in English whereby metric units of measurement are pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, and preserves the pronunciation of metre. It is generally preferred by the BBC, while most scientists use the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable.[7][8] The latter pronunciation, which follows the stress pattern used for the names of measuring instruments (such as micrometer, barometer, thermometer, tachometer and speedometer), is in common usage as well.

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