al·​tim·​e·​ter al-ˈti-mə-tər How to pronounce altimeter (audio) ˈal-tə-ˌmē-tər How to pronounce altimeter (audio)
: an instrument for measuring altitude
especially : an aneroid barometer designed to register changes in atmospheric pressure accompanying changes in altitude
altimetry noun

Examples of altimeter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Shastri said one promising use is in counteracting interference between different wireless transmissions, such as 5G cellular towers and the radar altimeters that help planes navigate. Quanta Magazine, 20 May 2024 Alegre explained the situation was quickly noticed in the cockpit as the altimeter was giving an incorrect reading of 570 meters (1,870 feet). Kerem Inal, ABC News, 4 May 2024 However, there is no barometric altimeter in the watch (the same is true for the Fitbit Charge 6), so this isn’t possible. PCMAG, 10 Apr. 2024 The lander is also equipped with laser altimeter and velocimeter, and a throttleable engine to provide adjustable thrust for the powered descent. IEEE Spectrum, 20 Mar. 2024 Between now and the 2024 deadline, airplanes continuing to use faulty altimeters have to follow some limits during landings. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, 9 Jan. 2023 The helicopter uses a downward-pointing navigation camera and a laser altimeter to relay directional information to its computer. George Petras, USA TODAY, 5 Feb. 2024 There's also a new Elevation view with altimeter data, and Maps works offline now, too. Samuel Axon and Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, 5 June 2023 The two technologies don’t use the same frequencies: 5G use frequencies between 3.7 and 4.0 gigahertz, while radio altimeters use the 4.2-4.4 GHz band. IEEE Spectrum, 29 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'altimeter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

1904, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of altimeter was in 1904

Dictionary Entries Near altimeter

Cite this Entry

“Altimeter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


al·​tim·​e·​ter al-ˈtim-ət-ər How to pronounce altimeter (audio) ˈal-tə-ˌmēt-ər How to pronounce altimeter (audio)
: an instrument for measuring altitude
especially : a barometer that registers changes in atmospheric pressure accompanying changes in altitude

More from Merriam-Webster on altimeter

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