We all know the radical array of answers to the old chestnut inquiry: “How long is a piece of string?

My question for you today peels off that ball o’ twine to ask:

A stranger from afar asks you to mail them “a piece of string” — but you are unable to ask any follow up questions — how much string would send the stranger as your fulfillment of that request?

Please explain your answer and provide the length of your “piece of string.” No fractions are allowed and that includes the entire ball of string — or twine! — as your response.

You must make a non-fractional value judgment and then give us the logic of that determination to receive full credit for your answer.

Good luck!


  1. My kinda question. Since don’t know what string is for I gotta guess it can’t be tied heavy. It’s string not twine so that means it isn’t strong. I do it old school. More like ancient school like when the pharaohs measured out a foot based on their feet and I send string two lengths of my arm. That’s fine to wrap a package or tie something and if too long he can cut it himself.

  2. I dunno. Maybe three feet or so. I guess I send around six foot of string but I like the body measure better.

  3. I’d send him six inches.
    seems like such a measurement is what is implied by a “piece”, especially when talking about a ball of string.

  4. Now that’s a fascinating answer! I love your definition implication of “piece” — but what can someone do with six inches of string? It’s too long to use to bind something and too short to tie around your finger as a reminder! 😀

  5. I would go down to the local shop buy a ball of string and send them that – they they could have as many pieces as they liked. ( Save them having to ask again for a while).

  6. I would wrap some string around my hand three times and send it that should be just enough to tie something.

  7. Would that be like a foot and a half of string, Anne? I can see how that would at least meet the requirement of being sort of just right to bind a small bundle.

  8. Approx 2552 meters as far as we can tell. A “piece of string” was used to mark the perimeter of a plot of land which might be owned by a “freeman” in olde england. A greedy man might measure out a circular plot but be seen as rather antisocial for not fitting in with the community. It was usual to measure a rectangular plot; boulders, streams etc. permitting. .That usually silences any idle enquirer.

  9. Now that’s a long “piece” of string at over 8,000 feet, edward! 😀
    I love your lesson and your analysis and sometimes — we need to learn — a piece of string can be an inch and sometimes it’s 10,000 feet!

  10. I love your string question!
    My first reaction to the question was that I would not send any string.
    I would however send a note to the stranger empowering him with resources to find some string of his very own.
    Thanks for posing the question–

  11. Well, if I must send some string . . .
    12 feet. That’s the width of the room I’m in right now. Seems just right to me. And easy to measure out.

  12. I would send this person 1 inch of string. Reason? Because 1 inch of string is as useful and makes about as much sense as a stranger asking another stranger to mail him/her string!
    By the way, will you please send me a piece . . . ?

  13. I would measure a ball of string and then send all and leave only 0.01 mm of string. That way they would have a full ball of string minus 0.01mm.

    E.G 5M ball of string remove 0.01mm from the ball and then send the remaining which would be 4.99M. Or if the ball of string was x, x-0.01 so that any legth you aren’t sending the full ball but are sending 99.99% of the ball.

    ( i used a percentage not a fraction)

  14. I would send him 1 “unit” of string, because one couldn’t know the length of the piece needed.

    Not sure if this makes sense, but it does to me…

  15. A stranger from a far who I cannot ask follow up questions? Why can’t I ask follow up questions? If I am to send this stranger a piece of string, don’t I have his mailing address? Why not mail him back a request for additional information? Moving on… Given that string is cheap to purchase and is light weight I’d determine how much I’m first willing to invest into satisfying the request of this “stranger”. Is this like a donation? In reality I would likely ignore the request entirely. Moving forward… Out of pure curiosity I’m willing to put an arbitrary figure of $15 including the cost of shipping for this string. I figure thats enough string to create or achieve many different things with… or repeat anything if something happens to the initial “piece of string”. the stranger would likely have specified if he needed an abnormally large amount of string for something like commercial purposes. If more string is needed let the stranger make a second request whichs includes more information. I don’t think the strength of the string matters. The word “string” is not a word that inspires thoughts of strength. The stranger would have chosen a different word if that was an issue. How much string is there minus shipping costs? I don’t know, I don’t care. Thats not the point of question. It can’t be. There is obviously no right answer when so little information is given.

  16. Depends.

    If price is a non-issue, 1,599,999.99 ft. The largest Ball of String was 1.6 million feet.

    If price is an issue, 3.5 ounces worth. Any more and you have to upgrade to a bigger letter.

    If practicality was an issue, 6ft. The arm span of a person is close to equal their height. 6ft is average height for an adult male. This dictates a good height for manipulation of the material at full length without too much slack or excess.

  17. I’d order them one from Staples, save on time, packing and postage, plus staples have a good idea as to what length people need and package accordingly

  18. Copyright question: Can I post this question on Facebook? I’d love to hear MY people’s answers. 🙂
    Now to my answer:
    20 feet long.
    Twenty feet equals the approximate height of two average building stories (it could be used for ESCAPE!).
    Twenty feet is a quantity I could possibly put in a manila envelope for efficient mailing, After all, it is a stranger ‘from afar’.
    Twenty feet is all I have 🙂

    1. You can post a link to this article in Facebook, Lillian! Just copy and paste the article URL in your status window and Facebook will parse it, provide a link, and a preview.

      I love your reasoning!

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