barometer

noun
ba·​rom·​e·​ter | \bə-ˈrä-mə-tər \

Definition of barometer 

1 : an instrument for determining the pressure of the atmosphere and hence for assisting in forecasting weather and for determining altitude (see altitude sense 1a)

2 : something that indicates fluctuations (as in public opinion) housing sales and other economic barometers

3 : standard, test a barometer to measure high school talent— Jeff Fellenzer

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Other Words from barometer

barometric \ˌber-​ə-​ˈme-​trik, ˌba-​rə-​ \ adjective
barometrically \ˌber-​ə-​ˈme-​tri-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
barometry \bə-​ˈrä-​mə-​trē \ noun

When did barometer become figurative?

Originally, barometer referred to an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure. Although this meaning is still very much in use, the word has taken on a strongly figurative sense denoting something that signals changes in conditions not necessarily related to the weather. This extended use of barometer has existed since at least the early 18th century, when Isaac Bickerstaff used it in an article in The Tatler: “I have an Engine in my Study, which is a Sort of a Political Barometer, or, to speak more intelligibly, a State Weather-Glass.”

Examples of barometer in a Sentence

a legendary Broadway flop that has subsequently become the barometer by which failure in the theater is judged

Recent Examples on the Web

In other words, the drone would be able to detect barometers of a person's energy such as blood pressure, pupil dilation, and facial expressions, and then give them a caffeinated boost as a result. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "IBM Files Patent For a Coffee Delivery Drone," 24 Aug. 2018 Tens of millions of Indonesians will vote in 171 elections for mayors, regents, and governors on Wednesday, an important barometer ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2019. The Christian Science Monitor, "Indonesian elections hint at rise of political Islam in the secular country," 26 June 2018 Over the course of the show, her makeup—whether light and feathery or, eventually, vamped up with the other witches—is a barometer for her allegiance to the witch’s coven. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 28 Oct. 2018 In the early twentieth century, nursing one's own baby was often a barometer of class: The poor did; the wealthy demurred, turning instead to wet nurses and manufactured infant food. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "The Breastfeeding Movement Is Experiencing a Tech Revolution—Here's How It's Helping New Moms," 11 Sep. 2018 While there is no exact data on firearms purchases in the U.S., the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System is used as a barometer for gun sales. Polly Mosendz, Bloomberg.com, "Guns Aren’t Selling as Well as They Were After Parkland," 4 June 2018 In 2017, firearm background checks, a good barometer of sales, declined faster than in any year since 1998, when the FBI first began compiling that data. Dave Altimari, courant.com, "As Sandy Hook Families Await Supreme Court Ruling, Remington Files for Bankruptcy," 26 Mar. 2018 The rand – a telling barometer of Zuma's fortunes – has gained more than 15 percent against the dollar over that period. Anchorage Daily News, "Zuma ordered by party to step down as South African president," 7 Feb. 2018 Soccer is a sensitive barometer of a nation's spirits. Leonid Bershidsky, chicagotribune.com, "Oh, the symbolism of Germany's World Cup exit," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barometer.' 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 barometer

1632, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for barometer

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for barometer

The first known use of barometer was in 1632

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More Definitions for barometer

barometer

noun

English Language Learners Definition of barometer

: an instrument that is used to measure air pressure and predict changes in the weather

: something that is used to indicate or predict something

barometer

noun
ba·​rom·​e·​ter | \bə-ˈrä-mə-tər \

Kids Definition of barometer

: an instrument that measures air pressure and is used to forecast changes in the weather

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More from Merriam-Webster on barometer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barometer

Spanish Central: Translation of barometer

Nglish: Translation of barometer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about barometer

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