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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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

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, released Thursday, showed slowing in October. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Fed Minutes Signal December Rate Increase Likely, But Less Certain Path Next Year," 29 Nov. 2018 Affected vehicles may display a malfunction indicator light or maybe just a fluctuating fuel gauge. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Ford recalls 1.5 million Focuses for faulty fuel tank purge valves," 25 Oct. 2018 While cleanup is finally underway, officials still warn that five river gauges in North Carolina still showed major flood stage levels and five others were at moderate flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. Travis Fedschun, Fox News, "Hurricane Florence aftermath sees North Carolina residents stepping up, helping out neighbors," 24 Sep. 2018 Even to me, as a person who finds something to stress about in a battery gauge, this doesn’t seem like a major problem. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "The constant stress of the battery meter," 17 Aug. 2018 The gauge will show the observations of past river stages. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "NWS warns of busy hurricane season at conference," 13 May 2018 Palmer said tidal gauges have shown 14 inches of sea level rise along Maryland shorelines in the past 111 years, but the 2014 National Climate Assessment projects 4.2 feet of sea level rise locally by 2100, based on satellite data. David Anderson, The Aegis, "At county council president's invitation, Harford group talks about human activity's impact on climate change," 18 Apr. 2018 The inflation gauge that the Fed tends to monitor most closely shows an increase of just 1.7 percent from a year earlier, below the central bank’s 2 percent target level. Christopher Rugaber, BostonGlobe.com, "Hiring bump adds 313,000 jobs in February," 9 Mar. 2018 Flood stage is 17 feet; Friday morning gauges showed the river currently at 14.99 feet. Leada Gore, AL.com, "Flood warning canceled for parts of Tennessee River," 2 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Why this matters: While some features fall away in the course of development, the early builds are still a good way to gauge the direction of the OS. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Hints of Windows 10's 2019 future show up in early '19H1' builds," 6 Nov. 2018 Alex Menendez/Associated Press Profitability also was often hard to gauge until 2011, when the company that owned the Empire State Building filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of an initial public offering. Peter Grant, WSJ, "Breathtaking Views Atop Manhattan Skyscrapers Are Big Business," 25 Sep. 2018 Although Gillum routinely reaches out to predominantly black audiences on platforms like drive time radio shows, the effect of such outreach is hard to gauge. Elizabeth Koh And Kirby Wilson, miamiherald, "Tallahassee mayor's path to Governor's mansion runs through Florida's black community," 28 June 2018 One of the best ways for Marks to gauge his progress is year-over-year performance. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "All the confidence in the world can't match experience for Outlaws driver Brent Marks," 19 June 2018 The full scope of Ms. Donovan’s achievements has been hard to gauge because her first two years at Old Dominion, when the AIAW governed women’s college sports, are not counted in the NCAA’s record books. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Anne Donovan, Hall of Fame basketball player and coach, dies at 56," 16 June 2018 While membership is hard to gauge, there are reports of hundreds of branch temples in the United States, including at least one in Cleveland. Andrea Simakis, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Clinic, parents clash over girl's brain tumor treatment; court to decide," 13 May 2018 Whether Amazon's founder and chairman, Jeff Bezos, really is bent on running the world is hard to gauge. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Is Amazon heading for world domination, or cruising for a bruising?," 27 Apr. 2018 Reproductive science has evolved to the point where there’s a wide range of exams to test fertility, some of which can gauge the status of your ovaries. Korin Miller, SELF, "What Does It Mean to Have a Diminished Ovarian Reserve?," 17 Nov. 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

7 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on gauge

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gauge

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gauge

Spanish Central: Translation of gauge

Nglish: Translation of gauge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gauge for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gauge

Comments on gauge

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