smoot: /smoot/, n.

[MIT] A unit of length equal five feet seven inches. The length of the Harvard Bridge in Boston is famously 364.4 smoots plus an ear (the ear is allegedly the width of the earhole in the side of the football helmet the victim was wearing when he was rolled over the bridge). This legend began with a fraternity prank in 1958 during which the body length of Oliver Smoot (class of '62) was actually used to measure out that distance. It is commemorated by smoot marks that MIT students repaint every few years; the tradition even survived the demolition and rebuilding of the bridge in the late 1980s. The Boston police have been known to use smoot markers to indicate accident locations on the bridge. Apparently Smoot's experience as a unit of measurement led to a life-long career; he eventually became Chairman of the Board of the American National Standards Institute, and later President of the International Organization for Standardization.