barometer

noun
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

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Other Words from barometer

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

In all, the celebration was the perfect start to the weekend of festivities, but more importantly, a barometer for female voices and talent being represented in Hollywood, with the number of women nominees growing each year. Cameron Bird, Vogue, "Diane von Furstenberg Invited This Year's Female Oscar Nominees to a Luncheon Chez DVF," 24 Feb. 2019 Global purchasing managers’ indexes, or PMIs, have come forth as a leading barometer of the health of the world’s major manufacturing sectors. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, "To Gauge the Health of the Global Economy, Look to Purchasing Managers," 5 Feb. 2019 Travel is such a curious barometer in these strangest of times, when our nation’s sociopolitical outbursts are felt around the world. Pilar Guzmán, Condé Nast Traveler, "Editor's Letter: The Wisdom of the Wild," 10 Oct. 2018 The home stretch of Tuesday’s special House election here has turned into not just a barometer of the national political environment heading into the midterms, but a referendum on the parties’ two top leaders: Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Voters snub house members looking to move up," 3 Aug. 2018 Miles driven autonomously is just one of many barometers for how advanced a company’s technology is and is how the software driving the cars learns and gains more experience. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Months after a self-driving crash, Uber is being slower and more deliberate as it gets back on public roads to test its technology," 24 July 2018 The data provides a barometer for the nation’s restaurants, builders, bankers and other service providers. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "U.S. Service-Sector Growth Slowed in December," 7 Jan. 2019 This weekend’s slate against the last-place Orioles (15-34) may give them a solid barometer of how effective their bullpenning can be. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Rays 'bullpenning' experiment continues: Relievers to start next three games vs. Orioles," 24 May 2018 Pending sales are a barometer of home purchases that are completed a month or two later. Josh Boak, The Seattle Times, "US pending home sales nudged upward in September," 25 Oct. 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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Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

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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 How to pronounce barometer (audio) \

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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