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 IHS Markit composite measures of U.S. orders and employment advanced in May, while a gauge of export demand showed only modest improvement and indicated lingering weakness in the global economy. Vince Golle, Bloomberg.com, "U.S. Business Activity Stabilizes in May, IHS Markit Data Show," 20 May 2020 There isn't a typical gauge cluster in front of the Model 3's steering wheel as there is in most gas-powered cars. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, "Tesla Model 3: The Complete Guide," 20 May 2020 Oregon will get another gauge Tuesday when the state releases the April unemployment number – which will surely land somewhere well north of 10%, as bad or worse than the toughest days of the Great Recession. Mike Rogoway | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon coronavirus job losses near 400,000, benefits backlog is 53,000," 14 May 2020 Charter prices for vessels that transport refined oil products have tripled since the start of March, according to the Baltic Clean Tanker Index, a gauge of freight rates along 11 shipping routes. Joe Wallace, WSJ, "Oil’s Crash Prompts Record Push to Store Fuel at Sea," 3 May 2020 Outside the vortex of hysteria that is social media, there’s no more reliable gauge of the national mood at any given moment than late-night talk shows. Judy Berman, Time, "Why Losing Late-Night Talk Shows to Coronavirus Feels Especially Bleak," 16 Mar. 2020 If Microsoft’s experience over the past year is any gauge, the companies are approaching the task thoughtfully. Noah Buhayar, Bloomberg.com, "Microsoft Learns Money Alone Can’t Fix Seattle’s Housing Mess," 6 May 2020 Though the data are from a small fraction of the country’s shoppers and does not include purchases made with cash, the data may be a reasonable gauge for what is happening with spending habits. New York Times, "“What’s Going On In This Graph?” website," 23 Apr. 2020 Figures from the US Census Bureau show an even steeper drop in January and February of this year, though last year’s numbers may be a better gauge of the new normal. Zachary Karabell, Wired, "The US and China Want a Divorce, but Neither Can Afford One," 20 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The best way to gauge what the world was like when LB aired is to look at the cast’s clothes. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "17 Laguna Beach Style Moments We Wish We Could Forget," 20 May 2020 As more countries start to remove the draconian limits on business and public life, investors are trying to gauge how quickly the global economy might bounce back. Christopher Rugaber And Yuri Kageyama, The Christian Science Monitor, "Stocks rise despite 33 million US jobless claims from pandemic," 7 May 2020 And, according to Science Magazine, antibody tests could be an incredibly important way to gauge how many people have been infected from COVID-19 already and survived the first of multiple strains of the virus. Elly Belle, refinery29.com, "Antibody Testing Is Finally Underway — But Who Is Able To Actually Get One?," 24 Apr. 2020 With people at home instead of at work, more toilet paper and Kleenex tissues are being used at home, which is just one new consumer behavior that Kimberly-Clark is trying to gauge. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Toilet paper sales send Kimberly-Clark soaring, but it’s uncertain of ongoing demand," 22 Apr. 2020 Markets have seen extreme volatility in recent weeks as investors try to gauge the extent of the pandemic and the government response. Joseph Lawler, Washington Examiner, "Stock futures plunge by limit as Congress struggles to reach deal on massive relief package," 22 Mar. 2020 The economic impact on the city, the festival itself, and all of the people directly and indirectly involved with SXSW is still impossible to gauge, as the the fallout will continue for months, if not years, to come. Dan Reilly, Fortune, "How coronavirus is affecting the global concert industry, including SXSW and Coachella," 9 Mar. 2020 Buttigieg has turned to a handful of black surrogates to help garner support with African American voters ahead of Saturday's South Carolina primary – a key contest to gauge black voter support – and in several Super Tuesday states. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "'Help me get it.' Pete Buttigieg's black surrogates face a skeptical audience for the candidate in South Carolina," 28 Feb. 2020 On Friday David Siders reported in Politico: A small group of Democratic National Committee members has privately begun gauging support for a plan to potentially weaken Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and head off a brokered convention. James Freeman, WSJ, "Sanders May Be Surging, But Is Socialism?," 3 Feb. 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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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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gauge.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gauge. Accessed 30 May. 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

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