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

For all the hype over the eventual shift to the blazing fast mobile 5G networks that are only now beginning to roll out, 4G will remain a critical barometer for some time. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Verizon has the fastest and best mobile network, study shows," 16 July 2019 The only difference is that the white world has more barometers. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Adelaide M. Cromwell, BU scholar of Boston’s black upper class, dies at 99," 23 June 2019 Men have been consulting weather glasses and other barometers for a long time. Richard Brookhiser, National Review, "Weather Trends," 20 June 2019 Everything on the internet since, from YouTube videos to Yelp listings, is punctuated with a barometer of user taste. Luke Winkie, Vox, "Who are these people who write thousands of Amazon product reviews?," 14 June 2019 This time around, my pregnancy became a barometer for finding good partners. Noura Sakkijha, Glamour, "I Raised $23 Million While Seven Months Pregnant. Here's What I Learned.," 29 May 2019 In a capsule endoscopy, for example, doctors take snapshots with ingestible cameras, but the devices don’t measure chemical composition, a more revealing barometer of gut health. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "State of Science: Swallowable Gut Sensors to Detect And Heal," 1 Jan. 2019 The ultimate barometer for the team will be its ability to win, but the marketing department has to put fans in the stands. Mike Preston, baltimoresun.com, "Preston: Ravens enter new era lacking star power, seeking new faces of the franchise," 21 June 2019 That has left small-town Kentucky as the primary barometer of progress in the fight for LGBTQ protections. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "What a Kentucky town's 20-year struggle with 'Fairness' says about rural LGBTQ rights," 21 June 2019

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

20 Jul 2019

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 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

Comments on barometer

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