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 that 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—a trench in the earth made by a plow—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.

Examples of furlong in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With jockey Flavien Prat aboard and sent off as the even-money favorite, Eagles Flight won the maiden special weight race for six furlongs by 2 3/4 lengths. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 28 May 2024 The bay colt and jockey Victor Espinoza surged to the lead with a furlong to go and thundered across the finish line a length ahead in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Beth Harris, Chicago Tribune, 4 May 2024 In the last furlong, and most visibly in the last few strides the leading four athletes took in that last furlong, not a horse among them could provide a surge to stop Senor Buscador. Guy Martin, Forbes, 25 Feb. 2024 There is a possible agreement that would allow Los Alamitos to run low level — $5,000 claimers — more than 4 1/2 furlongs. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, 24 Dec. 2023 See all Example Sentences for furlong 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'furlong.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 13 Jun. 2024.

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

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