mea·​sure | \ˈme-zhər, ˈmā- \

Definition of measure 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : an adequate or due portion all too few of the British actresses … have received their measure of remembranceSaturday Review

(2) : a moderate degree also : moderation, temperance

(3) : a fixed or suitable limit : bounds rich beyond measure

b : the dimensions, capacity, or amount of something ascertained by measuring took his measure for a coat

c : an estimate of what is to be expected (as of a person or situation) the measure of their tragedy is now beyond our imagination— G. F. Kennan

d(1) : a measured quantity

(2) : amount, degree giving children a greater measure of freedom

2a : an instrument (such as a yardstick) or utensil (such as a graduated cup) for measuring

b(1) : a standard or unit of measurement — see Weights and Measures Table

(2) : a system of standard units of measure metric measure

3 : the act or process of measuring settled by a measure made by a surveyor

4a(1) : melody, tune

(2) : dance especially : a slow and stately dance

b : rhythmic structure or movement : cadence: such as

(1) : poetic rhythm measured by temporal (see temporal entry 1 sense 3) quantity or accent specifically : meter

(2) : musical time

c(1) : a grouping of a specified number of musical beats located between two consecutive vertical lines on a staff

(2) : a metrical unit : foot

5 : an exact divisor of a number 6 being the greatest common measure of 42 and 12

6 : a basis or standard of comparison wealth is not a measure of happiness

7 : a step planned or taken as a means to an end took strong measures against the rebels specifically : a proposed legislative act sponsored an anti-inflation measure in the senate

for good measure

: in addition to the minimum required : as an extra added another illustration for good measure


measured; measuring\ ˈme-​zhə-​riŋ , ˈmā-​ ; ˈmezh-​riŋ, ˈmāzh-​ \

Definition of measure (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to choose or control with cautious restraint : regulate measure his acts

b : to regulate by a standard : govern

2 : to allot or apportion in measured amounts measure out three cups

3 : to lay off by making measurements

4 : to ascertain the measurements of

5 : to estimate or appraise by a criterion measures his skill against his rival

6 archaic : to travel over : traverse

7 : to serve as a means of measuring a thermometer measures temperature

intransitive verb

1 : to take or make a measurement

2 : to have a specified measurement

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Other Words from measure


measurability \ ˌme-​zhə-​rə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē , ˌmā-​ ; ˌmezh-​rə-​, ˌmāzh-​ \ noun
measurable \ ˈme-​zhə-​rə-​bəl , ˈmā-​ ; ˈmezh-​rə-​, ˈmāzh-​ \ adjective
measurably \ -​blē \ adverb
measurer \ -​zhər-​ər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for measure

Synonyms: Noun

expedient, means, move, shift, step

Synonyms: Verb

bridle, check, constrain, contain, control, curb, govern, hold, inhibit, keep, pull in, regulate, rein (in), restrain, rule, tame

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of measure in a Sentence


She felt equal measures of hope and fear. Their actions were motivated in large measure by a desire for revenge. An occasion like this calls for some measure of decorum. The meter is a measure of length. The dictionary includes a table of weights and measures. The legislature has passed a measure aimed at protecting consumers. The governor has proposed a number of cost-cutting measures. They were forced to resort to desperate measures. We need to take measures to protect ourselves.


using a ruler to measure a piece of paper an instrument for measuring air pressure mental abilities measured by IQ testing He's being measured for a new suit. His success cannot be measured solely on the basis of his popularity. The cloth measures 3 meters. The room measures 15 feet wide by 30 feet long.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The six-year contract contains cumulative wage hikes of more than 17 percent, retroactive to 2015, along with new measures governing internal discipline and appeals and the creation of a multipronged system of civilian police oversight. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "Seattle City Council approves police-union contract; deal faces scrutiny by federal judge overseeing reforms," 13 Nov. 2018 Unsurprisingly, all three of Amazon’s headquarter cities are much more expensive than the U.S. average by most measures. Rani Molla, Recode, "How Amazon’s proposed HQ2 and HQ3 locations compare with Seattle and the U.S. overall," 6 Nov. 2018 Uganda, Tanzania, and Vietnam have all consulted with China on cybersecurity measures. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "China is making the internet less free, and US tech companies are helping," 2 Nov. 2018 The sui generis magic of Riccardo Barthel is a mélange of made-to-measure resourcefulness, expert editing, and superb styling. Maria Shollenbarger, ELLE Decor, "An Italian Design Firm Transforms Discreet-but-Luxe Kitchens with a Timeless Florentine Aesthetic," 18 Oct. 2018 While there aren’t any specific benchmarks in terms of new construction or other measures such as reducing carbon emissions, the idea is to create a dialogue around better building and planning practices, according to Budi. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Olympics try more city-friendly bid process: Will it work?," 8 Oct. 2018 Nearly all of them lowered their blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and other health measures. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "Not So Fast," 24 Sep. 2018 Leave fads alone Desperate times don’t call for desperate measures. Janell Hickman, Allure, "How to Regrow Your Hairline When Your Edges Are Literally Snatched," 8 Aug. 2018 China also remains somewhat reliant on big-budget U.S. films to keep its cinemas filled year-round, a form of mutual interdependence that should supply some measure of insulation — at least for now. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Will Hollywood Get Caught in Trump's China Trade War Crossfire?," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Oddities include a medieval-looking skullcap from the 19th century that measured the bumps on a person’s head to determine intellectual traits. Washington Post, "Psychology museum explores what makes us human," 7 July 2018 The evidence comes from portable devices that measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide that players inhale and exhale, said Barbara Ainsworth, a professor at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions. Tom Avril,, "World Cup athletes burn a lot of energy. But some sports are even more demanding," 6 July 2018 Our group estimated that between forty and fifty men were being held in a cage that measured roughly ten feet by thirty feet. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Sen. Elizabeth Warren describes DHS border facilities: “cage after cage after cage”," 29 June 2018 His group hopes to launch a satellite by 2021 that will measure 80 percent of global oil and gas production. Zack Colman, Scientific American, "Gas Industry Grapples with Culpability," 29 June 2018 Have on hand a round Dutch oven with a lid that measures 8½ to 9 inches across. Sheryl Julian,, "Recipe: Irish cooks came to this country knowing how to make brown bread with their eyes closed," 28 June 2018 And next week, the Fed will say whether Deutsche Bank passed a stress test that measures the adequacy of its capital and risk controls. 1. Steven Arons,, "Why Deutsche Bank Can’t Just Shake Off Its Problems," 24 June 2018 Lydia was also equipped with a tag that measures water temperature and depth. Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic, "Why Great White Sharks Hang Out in Warm Whirlpools," 19 June 2018 That effort has also been delayed, because the city is just now implementing a system that can qualitatively measure data across its work force programs. Jeffery C. Mays, New York Times, "100,000 New Jobs for New York: Will Enough Go to Poorer Workers?," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'measure.' 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 measure


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for measure


Middle English mesure, from Anglo-French, from Latin mensura, from mensus, past participle of metiri to measure; akin to Old English mǣth measure, Greek metron


see measure entry 1

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Statistics for measure

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for measure

The first known use of measure was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for measure



English Language Learners Definition of measure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an amount or degree of something

: something (such as a cup or a ruler) that is used to measure things

: a unit used in measuring something



English Language Learners Definition of measure (Entry 2 of 2)

: to find out the size, length, or amount of (something)

: to find out the size of (someone) for clothing

: to judge the importance, value, or extent of (something)


mea·​sure | \ˈme-zhər \

Kids Definition of measure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : extent sense 2, degree, amount Our plan did succeed in large measure.

2 : the size, capacity, or quantity of something that has been determined Use equal measures of flour and milk.

3 : something (as a yardstick or cup) used in determining size, capacity, or quantity

4 : a unit used in determining size, capacity, or quantity An inch is a measure of length.

5 : a system of determining size, capacity, or quantity liquid measure

6 : the notes and rests between bar lines on a musical staff

7 : a way of accomplishing something a safety measure The new law is a measure to save energy.

for good measure

: as something added or extra We gave the wall another coat of paint for good measure.


measured; measuring

Kids Definition of measure (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to find out the size, extent, or amount of You should measure the cloth before cutting.

2 : to separate out a fixed amount She measured the rice.

3 : estimate entry 1 I had to measure the distance with my eye.

4 : to bring into comparison Why don't you measure your skill against mine?

5 : to give a determination of size, capacity, or quantity : indicate A thermometer measures temperature.

6 : to have as its size, capacity, or quantity The cloth measures ten meters.

measure up

: to satisfy needs or requirements They did not measure up to expectations.


mea·​sure | \ˈmezh-ər, ˈmāzh- \

Medical Definition of measure 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an instrument or utensil for measuring

2 : a standard or unit of measurement also : a system of such measures metric measure


measured; measuring\ ˈmezh-​(ə-​)riŋ, ˈmāzh-​ \

Medical Definition of measure (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to allot or apportion in measured amounts

2 : to ascertain the measurements of

3 : to serve as a measure of a thermometer measures temperature

intransitive verb

: to have a specified measurement

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Comments on measure

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by force of circumstances

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