O.E. mil, from W.Gmc. *milja, from L. mila "thousands," pl. of mille "a thousand" (neuter plural was mistaken in Gmc. as fem. sing.). Ancient Roman mile was 1,000 double paces (one step with each foot), for about 4,860 feet, but there were many local variants and a modern statute mile is about 400 feet longer. In Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, the L. word was applied arbitrarily to the ancient Germanic rasta, a measure of from 3.25 to 6 English miles. Mile-a-minute (adj.) is attested from 1957.