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 At the top of the mountain, the battery gauge indicated 44 percent of the battery's capacity remained, leaving 93 miles of range. Nelson Ireson, Car and Driver, "2021 Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo Charges Ahead," 27 Apr. 2021 The Fed’s preferred gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index, has typically shown even less inflation. Peter Santilli, WSJ, "What Wall Street Is Telling Us About the U.S. Economic Outlook," 26 Apr. 2021 Kerry spent the last few days back on the road, in China and South Korea, in a frenetic countdown before getting the first major gauge of his performance this week. John Harwood, CNN, "John Kerry's 'full speed' mission to restore American leadership on the climate crisis," 18 Apr. 2021 You'll likely be greeted by empty or sparsely stocked shelves and signs limiting the number of rounds one person can purchase if a particular caliber or gauge is in stock. Star Tribune, "As sales surge, bearing arms means bearing responsibility," 15 Apr. 2021 Both are hand-wound mechanicals, with the difference being the small seconds and power reserve gauge on the SBGK007’s 9S63 iteration. Allen Farmelo, Robb Report, "From Sharp Looks to Precise Movements, Grand Seiko’s Elegance Watches Are a Serious Value Buy," 17 Mar. 2021 Futures tied to the S&P 500 ticked up 0.2% after the benchmark stocks gauge posted its 22nd all-time closing high of 2021 on Thursday. James Willhite, WSJ, "Alcoa, DraftKings, PPG, Morgan Stanley: What to Watch When the Stock Market Opens Today," 16 Apr. 2021 The highest water level measured in the area was from a gauge in Pensacola, Fla., which recorded a peak water level of 5.6 feet above Mean Higher High Water (MHHW). Leigh Morgan, al, "National Hurricane Center posts its official report on Hurricane Sally," 15 Apr. 2021 It is also outfitted with an adjustable base and lid, as well as a stainless steel temperature gauge to help easily read and adjust temperature while cooking. Adria Greenhauff, Southern Living, "The 10 Best Barbecue Smokers for Pitmaster-Quality Meals at Home," 14 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Investors are looking to companies’ first-quarter results and their outlooks for the rest of the year to gauge whether valuations on stocks are justified. Will Horner, WSJ, "Stocks Close Lower as Earnings Season Ramps Up," 20 Apr. 2021 Conagra is monitoring Peloton subscriptions to gauge whether shoppers would be more inclined to buy health food vs. junk food, and tweaking its marketing accordingly. Deena Shanker And Henry Ren, Star Tribune, "Big Food is watching you: General Mills and rivals go all in on analytics," 11 Apr. 2021 Well, its center is located over northern Florida, and to gauge just how strong this high is, take a look at the National Weather Service announcement from this afternoon. Washington Post, "PM Update: Sunny and mild weather continues Monday," 4 Apr. 2021 Attorneys also interrogated jurors about their views of Floyd, with prosecutors trying to gauge whether someone could be empathetic to his behavior at the scene. BostonGlobe.com, "A dozen people will decide whether Derek Chauvin broke the law," 28 Mar. 2021 Scarcity means a seller’s market, so keep your eye on the ball—or the current going rate for it—to gauge whether the deal is worth it. Popsci Commerce Team, Popular Science, "Eco-friendly golf balls for a greener game," 19 Feb. 2021 As the only planet in the universe known to host life, Earth is often used as an ideal that astronomers can look at to gauge how common life might be elsewhere in the universe. Asa Stahl, Chron, "How special is the Earth, anyway?," 12 Feb. 2021 From the time the idea was first floated in mid-July through mid-August, the county never officially reached out to the La Mesa City Council or the city manager to gauge whether the community would be supportive of the venture. San Diego Union-Tribune, "County rushed to convert La Mesa hotel for homeless, despite pleas from city for input," 6 Dec. 2020 To gauge if there was any interest, Sullivan posted her idea the first week of October on a Clarendon Hills moms Facebook page. Chuck Fieldman, chicagotribune.com, "Clarendon Hills moms make for a sweet ride as witches," 2 Nov. 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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gauge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gauge. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on gauge

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