gauge

noun
\ˈgāj \
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

b : dimensions, size

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 3 sense 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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Synonyms for gauge

Synonyms: Verb

measure, scale, span

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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. DuBois, 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

Trade worries weighed on other markets Friday, with the S&P 500, the broad gauge for stocks, slipping 0.1% and currencies of export-dependent Asian countries like South Korea and Thailand also weakening. Benjamin Parkin, WSJ, "Trade Fears Threaten Best Year in Commodities Since 2002," 15 June 2018 Still, even this film buff sees advances coming that will make digital even more powerful, one day to supplant the 70mm as the ideal film gauge for modern movies. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "There Are Secrets in the Texas Theatre," 25 May 2018 With 25-to-54 viewers, the main gauge for these monthly contests, WFTV-Channel 9 was the clear favorite for news from 5 to 7 a.m. At noon, WKMG-Channel 6 pulled in front. Hal Boedeker, OrlandoSentinel.com, "March ratings: WFTV wins early morning, evening," 29 Mar. 2018 Ohio State as a gauge for Indiana -- not the other way around. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland.com, "Ohio State basketball is better than Indiana once again: Doug Lesmerises," 31 Jan. 2018 The Fed's preferred inflation gauge has increased at a slower pace, up 2.3 percent in the past year. Christopher Rugaber, Fox News, "US inflation reaches 2.9 percent in June, highest in 6 years," 13 July 2018 Consumer prices in May rose 2.3% from a year earlier, and excluding volatile food and energy categories, rose 2%, according to the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Federal Reserve Report Defends Use of New Tools to Set Interest Rates," 13 July 2018 Compounding the challenge: traders can short-sell the stock from day one and Xiaomi won’t be considered for inclusion in benchmark MSCI gauges. Ian Mount, Fortune, "Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi’s Monster IPO Flops on Its First Day of Trading," 9 July 2018 Volvo offers drivers a graphically beautiful gauge pod, with dials that have a touch of feathering and a nice typeface. Scott Sturgis, Philly.com, "Driving the 2018 Volvo XC60," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Even more troubling, the biological mothers had been chosen for their histories of mental illness, so that Neubauer might gauge to what degree environment figured in the children's mental health and identity formation. J.r. Jones, Chicago Reader, "Triplets ripped from family in a Nazi-like experiment, probed in Three Identical Strangers," 5 July 2018 One way of gauging how free The Carters are on Everything is Love is comparing them to Painter’s definition. Joshunda Sanders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything Is Love Is the Ultimate Ode to Black Freedom," 22 June 2018 Goldberg is looking toward the November elections to gauge the national direction. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Human Relations Commission, Windsor High GSA Kick Off Pride Month," 21 June 2018 Traditional stats may not be the best way to gauge Bryant’s impact this season. Chris Johnson And Eric Single, SI.com, "Top 100 College Football Players of 2018: Nos. 50–31," 19 June 2018 The business will potentially open early for second-round matches after gauging the traffic at de Vere's, said Firestone Public House assistant manager Bryan Huseman. Angel Guerrero, sacbee, "Five places to watch the World Cup in Sacramento," 14 June 2018 That’s because for years, researchers and medical groups have been laying the groundwork, running studies to gauge the safety and efficacy of OTC birth control — and show there’s a market for it. Megan Thielking, STAT, "Pressure mounts on drug makers to move birth control over the counter," 8 June 2018 The impact of the grid system is difficult to gauge. The Economist, "China wants eyes and ears on every street," 28 June 2018 My father’s simple existence has been like a horizontal plumb line for me, one to gauge myself against. R. Daniel Foster, WSJ, "A Father’s Lesson: Keep the Spirit Level," 14 June 2018

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, from Anglo-French

Verb

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

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Learn More about gauge

Dictionary Entries near gauge

gauffre

gaufre

gaufrette

gauge

gaugeable

gauge cock

gauged

Statistics for gauge

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gauge

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

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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 \

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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