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

With at least 15 candidates in the race, fundraising is a crucial barometer for demonstrating who can attract broad enough support to sustain a campaign. oregonlive, "Beto O’Rourke raises $6.1 million in 24 hours," 18 Mar. 2019 The vote determines which candidates can run in the presidential election in October, and is seen as a key barometer of public opinion. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Investors may regret buying those 100-year bonds from Argentina," 12 Aug. 2019 Alptraum thinks that pop culture's focus on orgasm as the barometer of pleasure is not always helpful., "30 years ago, one scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ changed how we talk about sex," 12 July 2019 Alptraum thinks that pop culture’s focus on orgasm as the barometer of pleasure is not always helpful. Lisa Bonos, Houston Chronicle, "Yes! Yes! Yes! ‘When Harry Met Sally’ changed how we talk about sex," 12 July 2019 Georgia’s wine, a hallmark export that belongs to a viticulture tradition going back 8,000 years — is beloved by Russians, and its sale has often been viewed as a barometer of relations between the former Soviet countries., "Georgian TV host unleashes tirade against Putin as tensions with Russia escalate," 8 July 2019 This drew gasps from the audience— the television fans did not see that coming, at least—and provided an intriguing barometer for modern taboos. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "The Nostalgic End of Fleabag," 30 Aug. 2019 Check-in Breaking my Elkhart: Elkhart, Indiana, the RV production capital of the United States, is often used as an economic barometer for the rest of the country and right now, things aren’t looking great., "Worrying economic signs in the heartland point to a recession: The Flyover," 19 Aug. 2019 The Oilers and Eagles battle difficult opponents this week which should serve as an accurate barometer of what Pearland and Dawson need to address post-scrimmage. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Football: Pearland, Dawson coaches pleased with opening week of practice," 19 Aug. 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

12 Oct 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



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


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 Encyclopedia article about barometer

Comments on barometer

What made you want to look up barometer? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to fake an opponent out of position

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