fur·​long ˈfər-ˌlȯŋ How to pronounce furlong (audio)
: a unit of distance equal to 220 yards (about 201 meters)

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Furlong Has Old English Roots

Furlong is an English original and can be traced back to Old English furlang, a combination of the noun furh ("furrow") and the adjective lang ("long"). Though now standardized as a length of 220 yards (or 1/8th of a mile), the furlong was originally defined less precisely as the length of a furrow in a cultivated field. This length was equal to the long side of an acre—an area originally defined as the amount of arable land that could be plowed by a yoke of oxen in a day, but later standardized as an area measuring 220 yards (one furlong) by 22 yards, and now defined as any area measuring 4,840 square yards. In contemporary usage, furlong is often encountered in references to horse racing.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Jill Baffert was wiping away tears in the winner’s circle after Fun To Dream won the Grade 1 $300,000 La Brea, the seven-furlong equivalent for 3-year-old fillies. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 26 Dec. 2022 Saturday’s three stakes began with Hernandez rallying Turn On The Jets on the inside on the far turn, then pulling away in the stretch to win the five-furlong turf test for older horses by 2¼ lengths over Whatmakessammyrun. Bill Center, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Dec. 2022 Oil benchmark Brent crude fell 2.6% Wednesday to $85.34 a barrel as monthslong negotiations entered the final furlong. Andrew Duehren, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2022 The Bashford Manor and Debutante are both six-furlong races for promising 2-year-olds that could end up on the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks trails. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 30 June 2022 But going from a six-furlong debut on March 5 to the Kentucky Derby on May 7 seems like way too much to overcome. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, 7 May 2022 On the turf, inside was place to be last year in 5 furlong sprints, not so this year. Jeff Nahill, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 July 2022 Forbidden Kingdom won the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 29. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 4 Mar. 2022 The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 1 is $1.25 million, same pot as on April 2 this year, when Cyberknife, trained by Brad Cox, won the nine-furlong race for 3-year-olds. Arkansas Online, 29 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'furlong.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Old English furlang, from furh furrow + lang long

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of furlong was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near furlong

Cite this Entry

“Furlong.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/furlong. Accessed 29 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


fur·​long ˈfər-ˌlȯŋ How to pronounce furlong (audio)
: a unit of distance equal to 220 yards (about 201 meters)

More from Merriam-Webster on furlong

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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