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

Such numbers are not true barometers of greatness, but with time running out for Messi, consider this. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Why Lionel Messi hates playing for Argentina in World Cup," 24 June 2018 And yes, there are connections between reality TV and Trump’s values and behavior: Take his obsession with ratings as a barometer of success, his love of pageantry, and his consistent muddying of the line between rumor and fact. Lucas Mann, The Atlantic, "What Exactly Makes Trump a 'Reality-TV President'?," 30 Apr. 2018 Baidu’s business, which relies on ads from Chinese medical, retail and other companies, is a barometer for the health of China’s private sector. Maria Armental, WSJ, "Baidu Forecasts Weaker Growth as Chinese Economy Slows," 22 Feb. 2019 The easing or tightening of restrictions on women’s dress, Alinejad notes, is a barometer of Iranian politics; when a new, less reformist Majlis is elected, for instance, women reporters receive admonitions to improve their appearances. Rafia Zakaria, New York Times, "The Woman Whose Hair Frightens Iran," 3 July 2018 Now, as Ford takes over its future, the train station could continue to be a barometer of Detroit's health. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit's comeback focus of History network special," 19 June 2018 Billboard's charts used to be our barometer for music success. Travis M. Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "From Elton John to Eminem to Peggy Lee: Trump's bizarre history with pop music," 11 July 2018 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

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

27 Apr 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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