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. 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 Primary as a political gauge The Texas presidential primary will foreshadow the party’s voter strength in the general election against Trump, much like the 2018 primary signaled that Democrats would make things close in the midterm elections. Dallas News, "With Super Tuesday primaries looming, Democratic presidential hopefuls step up their Texas outreach," 12 Jan. 2020 Dozens of House lawmakers are expected to hold town hall meetings or other public events during the recess that will serve as an early gauge of public opinion on what has transpired in the past week. Ed O'keefe, CBS News, "House Democrats to tell constituents Trump "has reached a grave new level of lawlessness"," 27 Sep. 2019 Major stock indexes in Europe closed broadly lower as a gauge of Germany’s private sector activity contracted for the first time in nearly seven years, according to IHS Markit. BostonGlobe.com, "Bond yields declined, a sign that investors were seeking to avoid some risk.," 24 Sep. 2019 Germany is Europe’s largest economy and often acts as a gauge for the continent’s economic health. Alex Veiga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tech companies help lift US stocks after wobbly start," 23 Sep. 2019 The turnout was being closely watched as a gauge of public sentiment after several tumultuous days. Austin Ramzy, New York Times, "Hong Kong Protesters Defy Police Ban in Show of Strength After Tumult," 18 Aug. 2019 Burgernomics was never intended as a precise gauge of currency misalignment, merely a tool to make exchange-rate theory more digestible. The Economist, "The Big Mac index," 10 July 2019 This Montreal business, then, seems designed into scaring St. Petersburg into ponying up for a new stadium before then (and presumably acts as a gauge of how serious Montreal is about paying for a team). Jon Tayler, SI.com, "Split-Season Push in Montreal Is the Rays' Latest Desperate Attempt for a New Stadium," 20 June 2019 The metal is used in everything from electrical wiring to autos, so investors follow its price as a gauge of momentum in the world economy. Joe Wallace, WSJ, "Growth Fears Override Supply Squeeze for Beaten-Down Copper," 17 June 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Over the past two years, the committee has met with PTA groups, campus administrators, principals and assistant principals, counselors and parents to gauge their attitudes toward the change. Ashley Mcbride, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio school district upends class rank policy to reduce students’ stress," 14 Jan. 2020 Some recipes call for cool or lukewarm water, which is pretty easy to gauge by touch. oregonlive, "Why didn’t my bread rise? 8 common baking mistakes that can cause homemade loaves to fall flat," 27 Dec. 2019 In some cases, the studies and their computer codes were so old that the team had to extract data published in papers, using special software to gauge the exact numbers represented by points on a printed graph. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Even 50-year-old climate models correctly predicted global warming," 4 Dec. 2019 According to Charania, the Heat will likely begin gauging a new pursuit of Paul after waiting to see how the start of the season plays out. Alaa Abdeldaiem, SI.com, "Report: Miami Heat Interested in Chris Paul Ahead of the NBA Season," 23 Sep. 2019 Lawmakers and other Beacon Hill defenders argue bills sent to Baker’s desk are not the only yardstick by which to gauge the Legislature’s productivity. Victoria Mcgrane, BostonGlobe.com, "Once again, Mass. is one of the last states not to have a budget," 1 July 2019 Henry George says, Compared with the solar system our earth is but an indistinguishable speck; and the solar system itself shrivels into nothingness when gauged with the star depths. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Is Poverty Necessary?," 10 June 2019 Whale microorganisms may also serve as useful sentinels for gauging the health of the ocean ecosystems that these giant mammals inhabit. Amy Apprill, The Conversation, "My team uses crossbows and drones to collect bacteria from whales - and the results are teaching us how to keep whales healthy," 17 Dec. 2019 Of course, that means voters are trying to gauge what other voters might do. Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, CBS News, "Race and gender in the 2020 presidential race — CBS News poll," 16 Dec. 2019

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

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

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gauge.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gauge. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for gauge

gauge

noun
How to pronounce gauge (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on gauge

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gauge

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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