1

gauge

noun \ ˈgāj \
variants: or less commonly
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of gauge

1 a : a measurement (as of linear dimension) according to some standard or system: such as
(1) : the distance between the rails of a railroad
(2) : the size of a shotgun barrel's inner diameter nominally expressed as the number of lead balls each just fitting that diameter required to make a pound
  • a 12-gauge shotgun
(3) : the thickness of a thin material (such as sheet metal or plastic film)
(4) : the diameter of a slender object (such as wire or a hypodermic needle)
(5) : the fineness of a knitted fabric expressed by the number of loops per unit width
c : measure 1
  • surveys are a gauge of public sentiment
2 : an instrument for or a means of measuring or testing: such as
a : an instrument for measuring a dimension or for testing mechanical accuracy
b : an instrument with a graduated (see 3graduate 2a) scale or dial for measuring or indicating quantity
3 : relative position of a ship with reference to another ship and the wind
4 : a function introduced into a field equation to produce a convenient form of the equation but having no observable physical consequences

Examples of gauge in a Sentence

  1. The broadest gauge of the economy—the gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation—has risen little more than 4% since the recovery began. —Alfred L. Malabre, Jr.Wall Street Journal26 July 1993

Recent Examples of gauge from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gauge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

gage vs. gauge

There are two gages: one refers to pledges or securities and is no longer in common general use, and the other is a variant spelling of gauge, which in the noun form refers broadly to measurement (“fine-gauge wire”) or a standard by which something is measured (“polls are a good gauge of how voters might vote”). The earliest evidence we have for the noun gauge goes back to the 15th century, when English spelling was not yet standardized, and the word in question was spelled gauge and gage with roughly equal frequency. Gauge began to be preferred in the late 19th century for most general uses. Some claim that gage appears as a variant more frequently in the U.S., though our evidence shows that the vast majority of uses for gage are from specialized and technical industries, such as mechanical engineering, manufacturing, and electronics, and that these uses of gage are global, not limited to the U.S. Nonetheless, total use of the word gage is small when compared to the total use of the word gauge.

The verb gauge, which refers to measuring or estimating, also has a variant gage. This variant appears to show up primarily in informal sources, though not often. Gauge is by far the preferred spelling in general usage for both the noun and the verb; we encourage you use it.

Origin and Etymology of gauge

Middle English gauge, from Anglo-French

Synonym Discussion of gauge

standard, criterion, gauge, yardstick, touchstone mean a means of determining what a thing should be. standard applies to any definite rule, principle, or measure established by authority.
    • standards of behavior
criterion may apply to anything used as a test of quality whether formulated as a rule or principle or not.
    • questioned the critic's criteria for excellence
gauge applies to a means of testing a particular dimension (such as thickness, depth, diameter) or figuratively a particular quality or aspect.
    • polls as a gauge of voter dissatisfaction
yardstick is an informal substitute for criterion that suggests quantity more often than quality.
    • housing construction as a yardstick of economic growth
touchstone suggests a simple test of the authenticity or value of something intangible.
    • fine service is one touchstone of a first-class restaurant

Other Railroad Terms


2

gauge

verb
variants: or less commonly gage

Definition of gauge

gauged also gaged; gauging also gaging
transitive verb
1 a : to measure precisely the size, dimensions, or other measurable quantity of
b : to determine the capacity or contents of
c : estimate, judge
  • hard to gauge his moods
2 a : to check for conformity to specifications or limits
b : to measure off or set out

Examples of gauge in a Sentence

  1. Through history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness. —W. E. B. DuBoisThe Souls of Black Folk1903
  2. On the other hand, no one supposes that the intellect of any two animals or of any two men can be accurately gauged by the cubic contents of their skulls. —Charles DarwinThe Descent of Man1871
  3. Incommunicative as he was, some time elapsed before I had an opportunity of gauging his mind. I first got an idea of its calibre when I heard him preach in his own church at Morton. —Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre1847
  4. Home sales provide a useful way of gauging the overall state of the economy.

  5. He accurately gauged the mood of the voters.

  6. I was gauging her reaction to the news.

  7. instruments for gauging temperature and humidity

Recent Examples of gauge from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gauge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of gauge

Middle English gawgyn, gagen, borrowed from Anglo-French gauger, derivative of gauge 1gauge


GAUGE Defined for English Language Learners

gauge

noun

Definition of gauge for English Language Learners

  • : an instrument that is used for measuring something

  • : something that can be used to measure or judge something else

  • : the distance between the rails of a railroad


gauge

verb

Definition of gauge for English Language Learners

  • : to make a judgment about (something)

  • : to measure (something) exactly


GAUGE Defined for Kids

1

gauge

noun
variants: also gage \ˈgāj\

Definition of gauge for Students

1 : a measurement (as the distance between the rails of a railroad or the size of a shotgun barrel's inner diameter) according to some standard
  • a standard gauge railway
2 : an instrument for measuring, testing, or registering
  • a rain gauge
  • a steam gauge

2

gauge

verb
variants: also gage

Definition of gauge for Students

gauged also gaged; gauging also gaging
1 : to measure exactly
  • gauge rainfall
2 : to make a judgment about
  • It was hard to gauge his moods.

Medical Dictionary

1

gauge

noun
variants: also gage play \ˈgāj\

medical Definition of gauge

1 a : measurement according to some standard or system
b : the dimensions or extent of something
2 : an instrument for or a means of measuring or testing
3 : the diameter of a slender object (as a hypodermic needle)

2

gauge

transitive verb
variants: also gage

medical Definition of gauge

gauged also gaged; gauging also gaging
1 a : to measure exactly
b : to determine the capacity or contents of
2 a : to check for conformity to specifications or limits
b : to measure off or set out


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