gauge

noun
\ ˈgāj How to pronounce gauge (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of gauge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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 sense 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 graduate entry 1 sense transitive 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

gauge

verb
variants: or less commonly gage
gauged also gaged; gauging also gaging

Definition of gauge (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
2a : to check for conformity to specifications or limits
b : to measure off or set out

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Choose the Right Synonym for gauge

Noun

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

Gage vs. Gauge

Noun

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.

Examples of gauge in a Sentence

Noun 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 Journal, 26 July 1993 Verb 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. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903 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 Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871 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 Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847 Home sales provide a useful way of gauging the overall state of the economy. He accurately gauged the mood of the voters. I was gauging her reaction to the news. instruments for gauging temperature and humidity
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It has been made in everything from .410 bore to 10 gauge, and with a variety of barrel lengths and stock configurations, including camo synthetic for modern waterfowlers. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "15 Best Duck and Goose Guns Ever," 23 Dec. 2020 The index company said Tesla will be added to the broad stock-market gauge before the start of trading Dec. 21, meaning most index-tracking funds that follow the S&P 500 will engage in a flurry of trading the Friday before. Michael Wursthorn, WSJ, "Tesla to Enter S&P 500 at Full Weight in December," 30 Nov. 2020 The anticipation has helped drive a nearly fivefold rally in the stock this year to almost $390 billion, making the electric vehicle pioneer the biggest company ever to be added to the gauge. Esha Dey, Bloomberg.com, "Tesla to Join S&P 500 Next Month as Largest-Ever New Member," 16 Nov. 2020 Biden has not put as much emphasis as Trump on stocks as a gauge of the country's strength or wellbeing. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Trump is handing Biden a booming stock market," 20 Jan. 2021 Others warn that the cycle threshold may not be a sufficiently reliable gauge of viral load, since it is influenced by the equipment, the chemistry, and the quality of the sample in each test. Will Knight, Wired, "I Tested Positive for Covid-19. What Does That Really Mean?," 11 Dec. 2020 Instead of relying on polls, Miller deploys the odds on the political gaming site Predictit as a gauge. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Trump fancies himself an incredible closer—but is it enough to make him a winner?," 3 Nov. 2020 The polls are seen as a gauge for Modi's popularity. Indrajit Singh, Star Tribune, "India holds first major state elections since pandemic," 28 Oct. 2020 Private exit polls were still expected to be released, offering insight into an election seen as a gauge of the strength of democracy in Latin America. Washington Post, "A year after Evo Morales fled, Bolivian socialists seek return to power," 18 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Shopper data from previous financial crises can help gauge the types of items purchased following economic uncertainty. Bryan Pearson, Forbes, "6 Pandemic Side Effects On Retail’s Road To Recovery," 25 Feb. 2021 The full extent of their spread is difficult to gauge. Josh Ulick, WSJ, "How Coronavirus Mutations Are Taking Over," 30 Jan. 2021 With Republicans fractured after the president’s bid to overturn the election inspired a rampage, many of them were trying to gauge the dynamics of a vote to convict Mr. Trump. New York Times, "Senate Plans Trial for Trump as G.O.P. Weighs Risks of Convicting," 14 Jan. 2021 The effectiveness of these additions will help gauge the Wild's potential, but so will some key returners. Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune, "Wild taking its new look into condensed season with realigned divisions," 10 Jan. 2021 Historically, people used a river's color to gauge its health, but modern-day scientists haven't really considered it as a measurement. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Third of the United States’ Rivers Have Changed Color Since 1984, Satellite Images Reveal," 4 Jan. 2021 The Oswego Police Department is inviting the public to participate in an online survey to help gauge how people feel about the department’s performance. Linda Girardi, chicagotribune.com, "Online survey gathering input on Oswego Police Department’s performance," 26 Dec. 2020 The show was hosted across numerous online platforms, including Twitch and YouTube in the U.S., and a firm number of peak concurrent viewers is difficult to gauge, because many streamers have different reporting procedures. Los Angeles Times, "The Game Awards drew more than 83 million livestreams. Why that matters," 21 Dec. 2020 The election outcome could help gauge where GOP voters land. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Voters go to the polls in North Texas Senate runoff between Shelley Luther and Drew Springer," 18 Dec. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of gauge

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gauge

Noun

Middle English gauge, gage "fixed standard of measure," borrowed from Anglo-French gauge, gouge "standard of liquid measure, tax paid to an official who determined the capacity of containers" (continental Old and Middle French jauge "graduated rod used for measuring liquid capacity, measurement by such a rod, capacity of a cask"), perhaps going back to Old Low Franconian *galga "rod, beam," going back to Germanic *galgōn "pole, stake, pole on which a condemned person was hung"; (sense 4) translation of German Massstab — more at gallows entry 1

Note: The semantic supposition behind this etymology is that the Old Low Franconian etymon retained the sense "rod" (lost elsewhere in Germanic) which was specialized to refer to a kind of measuring rod in Gallo-Romance. For detailed argumentation and bibliography see Dictionnaire étymologique de l'ancien français (online) at entry jauge.

Verb

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

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Learn More about gauge

Time Traveler for gauge

Time Traveler

The first known use of gauge was in the 15th century

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Statistics for gauge

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gauge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gauge. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for gauge

gauge

noun

English Language Learners Definition of gauge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

English Language Learners Definition of gauge (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a judgment about (something)
: to measure (something) exactly

gauge

noun
variants: also gage \ ˈgāj \

Kids Definition of gauge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

gauge

verb
variants: also gage
gauged also gaged; gauging also gaging

Kids Definition of gauge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to measure exactly gauge rainfall
2 : to make a judgment about It was hard to gauge his moods.

gauge

noun
variants: also gage \ ˈgāj How to pronounce gauge (audio) \

Medical Definition of gauge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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)
variants: also gage
gauged also gaged; gauging also gaging

Medical Definition of gauge (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : to measure exactly
b : to determine the capacity or contents of
2a : to check for conformity to specifications or limits
b : to measure off or set out

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Comments on gauge

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