gauge

noun
\ ˈgāj How to pronounce gauge (audio) \
variants: or less commonly gage

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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The gauge clusters are accented by Alpina blue, changing to Alpina green when in Sport or Sport+ modes, and there are three trim options—Myrtle Luxury wood, Piano lacquer, or Natural Walnut Anthracite. Caleb Miller, Car and Driver, 20 Sep. 2022 Testing revealed heart issues that ended in quadruple bypass surgery in December and repair of a hole in my heart the size of a 12 gauge in March. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, 18 Sep. 2022 The hybrid style combines high density memory foam with heavy gauge springs for a result that's somewhere between the feel of a traditional mattress and a fully memory foam pick. Annie Burdick, Peoplemag, 17 Sep. 2022 Peak’s gauge in late August registered a perfect bullish score, meaning that momentum traders were basically all positioned for rising prices two weeks ago. Ryan Dezember, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2022 Even though gas only makes up 5% of American budgets, its prices are seen by everyone, driving or not, providing a daily gauge for inflation. Nate Dicamillo, Quartz, 9 Sep. 2022 The National Weather Service temperature gauge and observation equipment at the Salt Lake City International Airport. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Sep. 2022 An inflation gauge that excludes items with more volatile prices accelerated to 7.83% from a year earlier. Oscar Medina, Fortune, 5 Sep. 2022 Near the Route fire, temperatures soared to 111 degrees Thursday, said Tom Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, citing data from a Southern California Edison gauge near Castaic Lake. Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That could help gauge which version of Green the Warriors will get this season. C.j. Holmes, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Sep. 2022 Forecasters have used all sorts of tools to gauge where the U.S. and the world are headed with Covid-19, ranging from epidemiologic models to historical ones. Steven Phillips, STAT, 6 Sep. 2022 In Poland, for instance, clams and other shellfish are wired with sensors to help gauge the quality of local water supplies. Eben Bayer, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 The water woes have led to crop shifting as growers try to gauge what commodity will bring the biggest returns. al, 14 Aug. 2022 The water woes have led to crop shifting as growers try to gauge what commodity will bring the biggest returns. Kim Chipman, Anchorage Daily News, 14 Aug. 2022 The water woes have led to crop shifting as growers try to gauge what commodity will bring the biggest returns. Erin Prater, Fortune, 13 Aug. 2022 Beyond those four, the battle for roster spots has been harder to gauge. The Indianapolis Star, 10 Aug. 2022 Instead, vaccine manufacturers have been studying volunteers’ blood samples in the lab to gauge their immune responses to a booster that is tailored to the first version of Omicron. Benjamin Mueller, BostonGlobe.com, 4 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best smart thermostats.

Learn More About gauge

Time Traveler for gauge

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near gauge

gaufrette

gauge

gaugeable

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for gauge

Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Gauge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gauge. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for gauge

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)

gauge

transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on gauge

Nglish: Translation of gauge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of gauge for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about gauge

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!