Difference Between Gallon and Litre

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: August 10, 2023


Difference Between Gallon and Litre

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People might have come across the word gallon in a story they are reading and be confused by it (unless they are Americans, in which case they are familiar with the term). A gallon is a unit of measurement much like a litre. However, gallons are used for measuring the greater volume of whatever liquid is required to be measured, whereas litres are more suitable for measuring smaller volumes.

A litre is equal to 0.264 gallons. So, why is litre a popular measuring unit? Well, a litre makes it possible to measure the everyday things people use without much hassle. Of course, it is possible to use other units of measurement, but why would someone do that when measuring in litres is much more convenient? After all, one does not use kilolitres of water in a day and definitely not mere millilitres of water. Litres measure a liquid’s volume as well as the capacity of a container.

Gallons are useful in measuring gasoline/fuel, milk (depending on the country), paint, oil, etc. On the other hand, litres are predominantly used for measuring just about everything from medicinal liquids, and cooking essentials, to alcohol shots. In short, though a gallon is greater in volume, it is convenient to measure using litres.

Gallon Vs. Litre

A gallon is greater than a litre. The meaning of litre does not vary; however, the meaning of gallon varies depending on which gallon one is referring to. An imperial gallon is not the same as a US gallon. The former is 20% greater in volume than the latter.

Difference Between Gallon And Litre In Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonGallonLitre
SymbolThe symbols GL and gal (refers to the IEEE standard symbol, not a woman) represent Gallon.The symbols L, l, and â„“represent Litre.
Origin wordThe word gallon is derived from the Old Norman French word galun.The word litre is derived from the French word litron.
VolumeA gallon (whichever definition is chosen) is greater than a litre.A litre is significantly lesser than a gallon.
RecognitionThe term Gallon is not as widely recognized as a litre.The term litre has international recognition.
Measurement in fluid ouncesThe American gallon equals 128 fluid ounces. The imperial gallon yields 160 fluid ounces.One litre equals 33.814 fluid ounces.

What Is A Gallon?

The imperial gallon (UK’s gallon) is equal to 4.546 litres. The US gallon equals 3.785 litres or 231 cubic inches, whereas the US dry gallon equals 4.404 litres. An imperial gallon, simply referred to as a gallon, consists of four imperial quarts, and a quart has two imperial pints. The imperial gallon is in use as the standard petrol unit in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, and six countries. All regions that use this term drive on the left side of the road.

Types Of Gallon

At present, there are three types of gallons, whereas, before the 19th century, there were several other types.

Prior To The 19th Century

Winchester Gallon

Winchester or corn gallon was introduced in 1697 and equals 157 imperial fluid ounces. The United States used this unit of measurement before switching to the current US dry gallon.

Irish Gallon

An Irish gallon, under the 1736 Act, equals 125 imperial fluid ounces.

Wine Gallon

Introduced in 1706, the wine gallon, as the name indicates, is a measurement unit of wine (no surprises there). A wine gallon is equal to 133 imperial fluid ounces. The US liquid gallon replaced the wine gallon in the United States.

Ale Gallon

Ale gallons, introduced during the Elizabethan era, were used to measure beers. An ale gallon was equal to 163 imperial fluid ounces.

At Present

Imperial Gallon

The unit litre replaced the gallon as the primary unit of trade; however, the gallon still acts as a secondary unit of measurement in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

US Liquid Gallon

Columbia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Liberia, and many others sell petrol by the US gallon. However, Puerto Rico, Panama, and El Salvador stopped selling in US gallons. The latter two switched to sale in litres.

US Dry Gallon

The dry gallon also known as the grain gallon and is one-eighth of a Winchester bushel. However, it is not officially part of the US Customary system.

Components Of A Gallon

A gallon consists of quarts, pints, and ounces, and their meanings are as follows:


Four quarts make up a gallon. A quart is of three types: the imperial quart, the dry quart, and the liquid quart. All types of quarts are approximately equal to a litre. An imperial quart = 1.136 litres, while the US dry and liquid quarts equal 1.101 and 0.946 litres respectively. The term quart originated from the Latin word quartus meaning one-quarter. Two pints (UK) or four cups (US) form a quart. In Canadian French, the imperial quart is referred to as pinte.

A Winchester quart is approximately two imperial quarts. Though Winchester quarts are no longer in use, the bottles in which laboratory chemicals are supplied are known as Winchester quart bottles. However, the bottles contain more than the amount a Winchester quart indicates. The reputed quart, which is one-sixth of an imperial gallon, was a wine bottle’s standard size in the United Kingdom till it was replaced by 0.75 L bottles.


The pint is one-eighth of a gallon and is represented by the symbols pt or p. The imperial pint is larger than its American counterpart by 20% due to the differences in the values of the imperial and the US gallons. The imperial pint is approximately 568 ml. The US dry pint is roughly 551 ml, whereas the US liquid pint is around 473 ml. Outside the US and the United Kingdom pints refers to different quantities. An Indian pint is defined as 330 ml, A Royal pint refers to 952 ml, and a Scottish pint (which remained in force until the 19th century) indicates 1696 ml.

In the United Kingdom, milk is sold in pint-sized returnable containers. However, the metric equivalent of the pint must be mentioned when milk is sold in plastic containers. Draught beers and ciders are still sold in pints in the UK.

Fluid Ounces

A fluid ounce is used to measure the volume of liquids and is of three types: the imperial, the US customary, and the US food labelling fluid ounce. An imperial fl oz is 28.413 ml, and a US customary fl oz equals 116 of a US liquid pint, and a US food labelling fl oz is equal to 30 ml.

A fluid ounce measures the volume taken up by an ounce of a substance (like beer, wine, or water). In 1824, the term imperial gallon replaced the different meanings of gallon. The imperial gallon was divided into quarts, pints, gills, and ounces. Five fluid ounces constitute a gill. Since four quarts make up a gallon, two pints make up a quart, and four gills form a pint, an imperial gallon has 160 fl oz.

When To Use Gallon As The Unit Of Measurement

The choice between Gallon and Litre as the unit of measurement depends on context. Some of the most important factors affecting the choice are as follows:

  1. Location – In the United States, gallons are the best unit of measurement when measuring liquids. In most other countries, people cannot be wrong by picking litre as the unit of measurement.
  2. Industry – A restaurant (food industry) may use gallons to measure the liquid cooking ingredients, whereas those in the medicinal field use litres.
  3. Purpose – In the field of science, the choice between litre and gallon depends on the measurement’s purpose. Litres are best suited for measuring the volume of a liquid in a small container. However, gallons are best suited for measuring fuel efficiency (at least in the US).

What Is A Litre?

A litre is a metric unit of measurement and equals a cubic decimetre. Therefore, a cubic metre is a thousand times greater than a litre. According to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, the standard spelling is litre (most countries use this spelling); however, in American English, the word is spelled liter. The term litre is usually used for measuring items that can be poured. Until 1964, a litre was considered equal to the volume/mass of one kilogram.

In the beginning, l (the lowercase letter L) was the only symbol used to represent litre because only symbols that represent the abbreviated version of a person’s name started with uppercase letters. However, people confused it with the digit 1. This confusion prompted the use of the uppercase L to represent litre in 1979. Canada and Australia use the capital letter, whereas the UK, Ireland, and most of Europe use the lowercase letter with prefixes or write the word in full (in the case of whole litres). Prior to 1979, the cursive l (â„“ )was used instead of l to avoid confusion.

Types Of Litre

The litre is a base unit and can be used with SI Prefixes. The following are the different types of litres derived by adding prefixes:

  1. Millilitre – A millilitre (ml or mL) is the most common derived unit. It is expressed as 10-3 L and is the equivalent of a cubic centimetre. It is used to measure small quantities of liquids. A thousand millilitres equals one litre.
  2. Microlitre - µl or µL (microlitre) is expressed as 10-6 L and equals cubic millimetre.
  3. Centilitre – A centilitre (cl or cL) equals ten cubic centimetres. It is scientifically expressed as 10-2 L. Centilitres are used to indicate the capacity of drinking glasses in restaurants. However, in the US, the use of ml or litre is encouraged as opposed to measuring using centilitre. A hundred centilitres equals a litre.
  4. Decilitre – A decilitre (dl or dL) equals a hundred cubic meters, and 10-1 L is its scientific expression. This term is popular in Switzerland, Croatia, and Scandinavia. A litre equals ten decilitres.
  5. Kilolitre – A kilolitre (kl or kL) is equal to cubic metre (m3), and its scientific expression is103 L. A kilolitre is the same as a thousand litres.
  6. Megalitre – A Megalitre equals a cubic decametre and one million litres is equal to a Megalitre. 106 L is its scientific expression. A megalitre is equal to one million litres.
  7. Gigalitre – A Gigalitre equals a cubic hectometre and is expressed as 109 L. A gigalitre amounts to 1,000,000,000 litres.

Kilolitre, megalitre, and gigalitre are used for measuring water consumption, reservoir capacities, etc., although some people prefer to use cubic metres. Hectolitre is a unit less commonly used compared to those mentioned above but more commonly used than the other types of litres. Exported beverages like milk, soft drinks, wine, etc. are measured in hectolitres. Nannolitre, peralitre, teralitre, and so on are the other derived units of litre.

Main Difference Between Gallon And Litre In Points

  • Litre is an incredibly popular unit of measurement, and an overwhelming majority of countries use it as the primary unit of measurement. On the other hand, the imperial gallon is only a secondary unit of measurement, even in the United Kingdom.
  • Four quarts make up a gallon, whereas a thousand millilitres form a litre.
  • Fluids and solids (fine particles or powders) are measured in litres. However, only liquids can be measured in gallons.
  • In the US, milk is usually sold in gallons. On the other hand, sodas are sold in litres.
  • A litre has many types, as it can be used with all SI prefixes. However, a gallon is only of three types (imperial, US liquid, and US dry gallons).


People won’t find it a problem if they do not know what a gallon means, as most countries opt to measure in litres. Some countries have stopped trading in gallons and shifted to litres. However, knowing the difference between a gallon and litre will prove to be helpful if people plan to visit the United States. The term gallon is still predominant in several regions of the US. Moreover, it is crucial to know how many litres equal a gallon when converting.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallon
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litre
  • https://thecontentauthority.com/blog/gallon-vs-litre
  • https://www.difference.wiki/gallon-vs-litre/
  • https://www.splashlearn.com/math-vocabulary/measurements/liter
  • https://www.splashlearn.com/math-vocabulary/measurements/gallon
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quart
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluid_ounce
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_gallon


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"Difference Between Gallon and Litre." Diffzy.com, 2023. Sat. 23 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-gallon-and-litre>.

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