In the United States we have a saying, "your mileage may vary", which means "your experience may be different". In English-speaking countries that don't use Imperial miles, is there an equivalent expression?

  • Please share your research or search results. Feb 26, 2016 at 19:03
  • 1
    Your mileage may vary imperially? Your km/l rate may vary?
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:04
  • @Rob - but that's not an equivalent expression, as no one says that to indicate that experiences concerning product life, for example, may vary from product to product and person to person, which how 'Your mileage may vary' can be used in English, but not in Dutch, for example.
    – Terah
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:18
  • 1
    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/8175/…
    – user66974
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:58
  • 1
    Here is a discussion on the subject: c2.com/cgi/wiki?YourMileageMayVary
    – user66974
    Feb 26, 2016 at 20:03

5 Answers 5


In some countries, the industry practice is to express fuel economy in terms of the amount of fuel consumed to travel 100km. Thus, kilometerage doesn't make any more sense than mileage does. Top Gear Netherlands expresses fuel economy as verbruik (consumption), e.g. Verbruik stad: 19.0 l/100km.

But you wouldn't say your consumption may vary either, because your mileage may vary has become a fixed expression thanks to its popularity in digital culture, and there's nothing wrong with using it even if you have no idea how long a mile is (or which mile you're referring to).

As established in another question, Mileage as unit-agnostic term, the term mileage does not require that the measurement be done using miles. The mile is a longstanding unit, going back to antiquity, and as a concept of distance is thus embedded deep in the language. The OED attests to mileage in the sense of fuel consumption from 1926:

The tendency… is to produce… engines of increased compression ratio, in order mainly to diminish the petrol consumption and increase mileage per gallon consumed.

from the journal Science 10 Sept. 237/1. But the metaphorical sense of mileage—the extent of benefit or advantage one can obtain from something— is actually even older, from at least 1860:

It has been a heavy mileage of neglect for which we have already paid dearly.

(W. H. Russell, My Diary in India I.x.155)

So an English-speaker can say mileage regardless of whether your miles are nautical miles, kilometers, stade, li, or smoots. Top Gear India gives mileage estimates in kpl (kilometers per litre).

The specific phrasing Your Mileage May Vary originates in U.S. federal regulation. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 mandated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administer a fuel economy testing system for passenger cars and light trucks. Starting in 1978, a placard like this one was attached to all new cars sold in the United States:

Actual mileage will vary

(the design has been subsequently revised several times)

The disclaimer actual mileage will vary was variously rendered in advertising; EPA estimate; your actual mileage may vary and variants were ritualistically intoned in many a television and radio ad. The your mileage may vary variant happened to be the one that became popularized in digital culture, and with the rise of the retail Internet, YMMV became ubiquitous.

Although I'm sure there are generalized sayings with the lesson to manage your expectations, now my brain seems to be fixated on regulatory and liability-limiting language. YMMV is the only one that has migrated to online culture, however, so if anything, these alternatives are even more specific to the US and would only be recognizable as set expressions to Americans:

  • Results may vary
  • Kids, don't try this at home
  • Past performance is no guarantee of future results
  • Price and participation may vary
  • No other warranty express or implied
  • Contents may settle during shipment
  • Other restrictions may apply

Essentially, any warning message that reality may not live up to the advertised ideal could apply, but the wording of the message would be localized.

  • 2
    I can't read all those without thinking: Batteries not included.
    – J.R.
    Feb 26, 2016 at 22:00
  • Interesting and certainly worthy of upvoting.
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 26, 2016 at 23:43

In Canada at least, where use of the kilometre is normal "Your mileage may vary" is well understood in its internet sense. In fact the word 'mileage' is sometimes used even when expressing gas consumption in litres per kilometre. (Although 'fuel economy' or 'gas consumption' is the norm. 'Kilometrage' is used almost never.

  • +1 for your unqualified mention of "consumption," although I think "gas" can be omitted, just as it [as well as "per gallon"] is omitted in the OP's "[gas] mileage [per gallon]": "Your actual consumption may vary."
    – Papa Poule
    Feb 27, 2016 at 1:05

From oxforddictionaries...

circumstances alter cases (proverb)
One’s opinion or treatment of someone or something may vary according to the prevailing circumstances.

That's a slightly more restrictive definition than I would expect, since it can just as well apply to one's experience being different (as opposed to opinions or treatment of something).

  • Great. Another driveby downvote, a curse upon this site. Why doesn't this capture "your experience may be different"? Not catchy enough? Not enough of a commercial parody? Alas, we can't tell. This behavior leaves bad answers uncorrected, and it leaves good answers with the impression that they're bad answers.
    – deadrat
    Feb 26, 2016 at 21:45
  • @deadrat: I'm a bit baffled by this one. But I assume I must be somehow missing the point of the question as perceived by others here, given that as of now 7 people have been moved to upvote the Q (i.e. - they must think there's something that would qualify as a "correct" answer). Yet only 3 answer upvotes have been doled out (one each to three different answers, none of which would satisfy me). But I've been here long enough that I don't get irritated any more (just baffled, intrigued! :) Feb 26, 2016 at 23:24
  • I agree with deadrat that the downvote here was absurd.
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 26, 2016 at 23:44
  • 1
    @Sven: I guess that's your upvote that saves me further public shaming then, ty! :) But to some extent the question is a bit meaningless. The generation after mine in the UK don't "use" pounds (to them it's all kilograms), but they'd still demand their pound of flesh if the context arose. (Me, I'm still prepared to ask someone if they've got their seven-league boots, by way of warning them it's a long way to walk to wherever they've just asked directions for! :) Feb 27, 2016 at 1:11
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Alas, I've been banned from the Grumpy Ole Git of the Year contest. "Fercryanoutloud," they said. "Give someone else a chance, won't you?" When someone annoys me, I've found it helps to mentally go to my "happy place," a beautiful glade on a sunny day, with a gentle breeze blowing, birds chirping, and a brook babbling. And when I look down I can see the face of the person annoying me as I hold his head under the water of the brook.
    – deadrat
    Feb 27, 2016 at 20:02

Your mileage may vary:

  • In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency requires a set of standard emissions tests on all new vehicles which simulate city and highway driving. Part of the test measures estimated city and highway gas mileage estimates. Since no test can exactly simulate all driving habits and conditions, actual gas mileage of each vehicle will vary. As a result, when these estimated mileage claims from automobile manufacturers appear in advertisements, they are almost always accompanied with the standard disclaimer "your mileage may vary."

An alternative is it may work differently for you.

  • This is a good suggestion, because in encompasses both fuel economy metrics (be they miles/gallon or furlongs/hogshead) and the colloquialism often abbreviated in the techronym YMMV. +1, with a dollop of ethanol.
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 26, 2016 at 20:25
  • So a location that does not use miles but let's say kilometers, will still state "your mileage may vary"? (I interpreted the OP's question to be exactly that question - what would a non-miles-measuring country use in place of that statement?) Feb 26, 2016 at 20:41
  • @Kristina: What did you say? Sorry - I was miles away. If that didn't hit the spot, I guess I'll have to concede that a miss is as good as a mile :) Feb 26, 2016 at 23:28

Cooking instructions on pre-packaged food in the UK often contains the warning:

Appliances may vary. Ensure product is cooked though before serving.

The phrase

Appliances may vary

is not vey common in speech, but is sometimes used and has roughly the same meaning.

Although we use miles, YMMV is not a common phrase.