Definition of barometer
- housing sales and other economic barometers
a legendary Broadway flop that has subsequently become the barometer by which failure in the theater is judged
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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.”
: an instrument that is used to measure air pressure and predict changes in the weather
: something that is used to indicate or predict something
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