The length of any type of item can be measured in centimeters. When using U.S. customary units, length is measured in inches, feet, yards or miles. When using the metric system, length is measured in millimeters, centimeters, meters, kilometers and so on.
The same length can be expressed in different systems of measurement. The metric system uses meters as its basic measure for length, and the other units are multiples and divisions of the meter. The prefix "centi" refers to the fact that a centimeter is equal to one one-hundredth of a meter, as per the table below:
kilometer = 1,000 meters
hectometer = 100 meters
decameter = 10 meters
decimeter = 0.1 meters
centimeter = 0.01 meters
millimeter = 0.001 meters
One centimeter equals 0.393701 inches. Any length can be converted using this ratio, from the metric system to U.S. customary units, or from U.S. customary to metric.
While any measurement can be expressed using centimeters, the unit is used most often to measure items that are too long to be measured in millimeters and too short to be measured in meters. Examples include the width of a computer screen, the height of a newborn baby and the wingspan of a butterfly.