United States customary units are a system of measurements commonly used in the United States. The U.S. customary system developed from English units which were in use in the British Empire before American independence. However, the British system of measures was overhauled in 1824 to create the Imperial system, changing the definitions of some units. Therefore, while many U.S. units are essentially similar to their Imperial counterparts, there are significant differences between the systems. The majority of U.S. customary units were redefined in terms of the meter and the kilogram with the Mendenhall Order of 1893 and, in practice, for many years before. These definitions were refined by the international yard and pound agreement of 1959. Americans primarily use customary units in commercial activities, as well as for personal and social use. In science, medicine, many sectors of industry and some of government, metric units are used. The International System of Units (SI), the modern form of the metric system, is preferred for many uses by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).