al·​tim·​e·​ter | \ al-ˈti-mə-tər How to pronounce altimeter (audio) , ˈal-tə-ˌmē-tər How to pronounce altimeter (audio) \

Definition of altimeter

: an instrument for measuring altitude especially : an aneroid barometer designed to register changes in atmospheric pressure accompanying changes in altitude

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Other Words from altimeter

altimetry \ al-​ˈti-​mə-​trē How to pronounce altimetry (audio) \ noun

Examples of altimeter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The camera can also tag the photo metadata with its internal altimeter and compass, adding brag-worthy contextual detail to vacation slideshows. Jess Grey, Wired, "The Top 3 Rugged Cameras for Daredevil Shooters," 21 Apr. 2020 By chance, its laser altimeter, used mostly to measure the changing height of polar ice, bounced light off the exposed rocks of Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean, home to 23 nuclear weapons tests. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Ice-tracking space laser could also map sea floor and monitor health of coral reefs," 14 Apr. 2020 The pilots were left only with the analog displays: a magnetic compass, a horizon indicator, one airspeed indicator, and an altimeter. Matt Parker, Wired, "Bad Math, Pepsi Points, and the Greatest Plane Non-Crash Ever," 23 Jan. 2020 In bad weather, those with the proper certification can fly under instrument flight rules, relying on their altimeter, airspeed indicator, and other dashboard tools. Alex Davies, Wired, "Probe of the Kobe Bryant Crash Will Examine If Fog Played a Role," 27 Jan. 2020 Tape drops and laser altimeters can produce different measurements. Tom Stienstra,, "10 must-see giant redwoods in California," 10 Mar. 2020 The helicopter was equipped with a four-axis automatic flight control system, electronic flight instrument system, radio altimeter, and ADS-B transponder. New York Times, "Read the Preliminary N.T.S.B. Report About the Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash," 7 Feb. 2020 Atlas was an acronym for advanced topographic laser altimeter system. Jon Gertner, Scientific American, "How a New Wave of Orbiting Sentinels Is Changing Climate Science," 6 Jan. 2020 On the other hand, Autoland requires an airplane with the latest version of the G3000 flight deck, with auto-throttles, auto-braking, radar altimeter, and more. Eric Tegler, Ars Technica, "This system from Garmin can land a private plane when your pilot can’t," 13 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'altimeter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of altimeter

1904, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for altimeter

borrowed from New Latin, from Latin altus "high" + -i- -i- + New Latin -meter -meter — more at altitude

Note: The word altimeter appears in the word lists of early Latin-English dictionaries, as the 1572 edition of Richard Huloet's dictionary and the 1578 edition of Thomas Cooper's Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britannicae (defined as "an instrument wherwith high things are mette"). These entries all appear to derive from versions of Papias' Latin dictionary Elementarium doctrinae rudimentum, composed in the 11th century, but reedited and expanded many times; the 1485 Venice edition enters "altimeter quo metiuntur altitudines - quoddam instrumentum est" ("altimeter by which heights are measured; it is a certain instrument"). Cf. New Latin scala altimetra, with vernacular equivalents, as Middle French eschelle altimetre, applied to the graduated scale of various instruments for measuring angular distance above the horizon. As a word used in the early 20th century for instruments employing barometric pressure to measure altitude, the word may be a recoinage from Latin altus and -meter.

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Time Traveler for altimeter

Time Traveler

The first known use of altimeter was in 1904

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Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Altimeter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for altimeter


How to pronounce altimeter (audio) How to pronounce altimeter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of altimeter

: an instrument used for measuring the altitude of something (such as an airplane or a mountain)

More from Merriam-Webster on altimeter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with altimeter Encyclopedia article about altimeter

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