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 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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The drop is concerning to analysts who use copper prices as a gauge of economic activity. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Copper’s Slide Signals Caution About Chinese Growth," 29 Apr. 2019 The bike also gets a fuel gauge and a gear indicator, as well as self-cancelling turn-signals. Nick Goddard, Popular Mechanics, "The Ducati Scrambler Icon Bike Just Got a Little Sweeter To Ride," 25 Sep. 2018 Uneeda’s fries are a paragon of the golden-crisp, potatoey-tasting, mid-gauge style (skip the poutine, as the gravy is lackluster). Bethany Jean Clement, The Seattle Times, "Seattle’s top 4 burger spots — ranked by Seattle Times critics," 10 July 2018 And the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston reported that a local toy manufacturer said that tariffs had raised threefold the price of a type of thin-gauge foil produced only in China. New York Times, "Disarray Plagues U.S. Companies’ Efforts to Win Tariff Exemptions," 13 May 2018 Some mattresses, however, had coils with thinner-gauge metal — meaning more coils did not always translate to a better mattress. Kelsey Kloss, ELLE Decor, "5 Tips For Buying A Mattress Online," 25 Apr. 2016 Instead, use heavy-gauge metal cookie sheets with a dull finish (aluminum is ideal). Good Housekeeping, "Troubleshooting Your Cookie Problems," 17 Mar. 2015 Goss wrote, checking in with Fries on February 17, 1927, to recommend that testing be done only with the one-inch Very Pistols instead of the ten-gauge. Longreads, "How Lobbyists Normalized the Use of Chemical Weapons on American Civilians," 24 Nov. 2014 In a 10-inch by 12-inch heavy-gauge skillet with a deep-fry thermometer attached, heat the vegetable shortening over medium-high heat, bringing it to 375 degrees F. Country Living, "Spicy Southern-Fried Chicken," 7 Mar. 2011

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some third-party resources like Chartmetric are working to close precisely these data gaps, creating their own metrics for gauging activity like playlist engagement beyond follower count alone. Cherie Hu, Billboard, "A2IM CEO Richard Burgess on Spotify's Direct Licensing Plan: 'We Should Have Equal Access to Their Data'," 21 June 2018 Besides sighting the neck, a good way to gauge neck relief is to do a tap test. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Set Up a Guitar And Make It Your Own," 7 Dec. 2018 So early voting may not be the best way to gauge whether people who haven’t voted before, or who don’t vote often, are joining the electorate this time around. Anna North, Vox, "What women’s early voting numbers tell us — and what they don’t," 31 Oct. 2018 But there is a rule-of-thumb way to gauge Democratic enthusiasm and the party’s chances in November, Mitchell said. John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, "Election night: Why the first returns may tell the whole story," 29 May 2018 The real estate industry uses months of supply as a way to gauge the health of a particular market. Rene Rodriguez, miamiherald, "Here are the Miami neighborhoods where home prices are reasonable — but supply is low | Miami Herald," 21 May 2018 One way to gauge this: Find the line for capital spending on its annual financial statement and compare this with the line showing depreciation. Peter Finch, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Is your parents' continuing care retirement community financially stable?," 9 May 2018 Seeing the show in Toronto is one way to gauge what the experience will be like when the show opens July 7 at the Cleveland Museum of Art for a 12-week run that is not entirely sold out. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Kusama 'Infinity Mirrors' show in Toronto offers preview of what's coming to Cleveland (photos)," 6 May 2018 And while sales are one way to gauge the will of the people, the marketplace is fickle. Americans ought to be cautious before making corporations their moral compass or primary vehicle for reform. Adam Winkler, The New Republic, "Why big business is suddenly into liberal politics," 30 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gauge

Dictionary Entries near gauge

gauffre

gaufre

gaufrette

gauge

gaugeable

gauge cock

gauged

Statistics for gauge

Last Updated

25 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gauge

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 gage (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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up gauge? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!