ba·​rom·​e·​ter | \ bə-ˈrä-mə-tər How to pronounce barometer (audio) \

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

Other Words from barometer

barometric \ ˌber-​ə-​ˈme-​trik How to pronounce barometer (audio) , ˌba-​rə-​ \ adjective
barometrically \ ˌber-​ə-​ˈme-​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce barometer (audio) \ adverb
barometry \ bə-​ˈrä-​mə-​trē How to pronounce barometer (audio) \ 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 But recent history might not be a good barometer for this Red Sox team. Globe Staff,, 22 May 2022 For Oscar lovers, the Screen Actors Guild Awards air live Sunday on TNT and TBS (8 p.m. ET/5 PT) and will be a good barometer of who's got momentum heading into the Academy Awards on March 27. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 25 Feb. 2022 Cryptocurrencies are a good barometer for the current reduction in risk appetite. Akayla Gardner, Fortune, 10 Jan. 2022 That maneuver worked, but polls have shown Mr. Perdue trailing Mr. Kemp heading into the May 24 contest, an early barometer of Mr. Trump’s influence. New York Times, 17 Apr. 2022 The next 162 games — and perhaps more — will serve as an important though incomplete barometer. Alex Speier,, 6 Apr. 2022 For the rest of the war, the value of the greenback became an exquisitely sensitive barometer of the prospects of the Union war effort. Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2022 Former National League batting champ Todd Helton, on the other hand, is on the upswing, if his current 54.5 per cent is an accurate barometer of his eventual finish. Dan Schlossberg, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 Chillin Island was indeed an almost frighteningly accurate cultural barometer, serving as proof of human curation’s superiority to any algorithm. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 14 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of barometer

1632, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of barometer was in 1632

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barometer bush

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Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Barometer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for barometer


ba·​rom·​e·​ter | \ bə-ˈrä-mə-tər How to pronounce barometer (audio) \

Kids Definition of barometer

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

More from Merriam-Webster on barometer

Nglish: Translation of barometer for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about barometer


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