mea·​sure | \ ˈme-zhər How to pronounce measure (audio) , ˈmā- How to pronounce measure (audio) \

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 How to pronounce measure (audio) , 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


measurer \ ˈme-​zhər-​ər How to pronounce measure (audio) , ˈmā-​ ; ˈmezh-​rə-​ , ˈmāzh-​ \ noun

Synonyms for measure

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of measure in a Sentence

Noun 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. Verb 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 Psaki indicated the administration would like to see progress with negotiations by Memorial Day, so the House and Senate can clear the measure this summer. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "White House presses GOP to counter with own infrastructure pay-fors," 1 Apr. 2021 Many in the public school system oppose the measure for that reason. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, "Education opportunity accounts have come to Kentucky: Here's what to know," 31 Mar. 2021 And liberals who favor strict, European-style firearm controls will express disgust at the measure’s painfully narrow ambition. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Why Democrats should settle for baby steps on gun control," 31 Mar. 2021 Missouri House Republicans blocked funding for Medicaid expansion multiple times Tuesday — even though Missouri voters passed the measure in a statewide referendum in August. NBC News, "Missouri voters passed Medicaid expansion. Now state Republicans may not pay for it.," 30 Mar. 2021 Bill Haslam, a Republican, vetoed the measure, citing a 2015 state attorney general’s opinion stating the bill violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well as Article I, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution. al, "Tennessee debates making Bible its official state book," 30 Mar. 2021 Behind the scenes, two election lawyers close to the White House and congressional Democrats said Mr. Manchin was not the only one on their side with reservations about the measure. New York Times, "Democrats Splinter Over Strategy for Pushing Through Voting Rights Bill," 30 Mar. 2021 More than 9,500 Cincinnatians signed a petition to put the measure on the ballot. Hannah K. Sparling, The Enquirer, "Issue 3: Court orders new ballot language for affordable housing amendment," 30 Mar. 2021 The state was in the midst of a polio epidemic, and lawmakers called the measure a necessary step in protecting children. Jenna Carlesso,, "Proposal to eliminate Connecticut’s religious exemption for mandatory vaccines is headed for a vote. Here’s what’s in the bill.," 30 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Anyone looking for phones that can measure the temperature of objects around them is probably familiar with the Caterpillar phones that Bullitt makes. Chris Smith, BGR, "If you need a rugged phone, Caterpillar’s latest model might do," 1 Apr. 2021 But in high winds like that, the equipment cannot properly measure gas plumes, the state said. Dallas News, "Texas seeks $1.6 million from Atmos after fatal Dallas gas explosion," 1 Apr. 2021 WalletHub reached out to Kovari and other financial experts asking a series of questions as to how consumers can measure the efficiency of how their money is used. C. M. Schmidlkofer, Washington Examiner, "New Hampshire gives best rate of return for tax dollars: Report," 1 Apr. 2021 Statistics can measure the change; gauging the impact is harder. David Lauter, Los Angeles Times, "Essential Politics: Biden’s senior appointments are almost 60% women. He’s on track for a historic milestone," 26 Mar. 2021 Detecting tread wear is complicated since these sensors can't directly measure tread depth. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Coming soon: Smart tires that could help you drive better," 21 Mar. 2021 Einstein revolutionized physics not by thinking about what exists in the world, but by considering what individuals can possibly measure. Quanta Magazine, "Quantum Mischief Rewrites the Laws of Cause and Effect," 11 Mar. 2021 But in his walkout basement, with its double-height ceilings, there was a pitcher’s mound and netting, a can of Firm Grip, and a Rapsodo — a machine that can measure the spin rate and axis of any pitch. New York Times, "The Lawyer Who Became a (Pitching) Ninja," 11 Mar. 2021 The company has set up a testing lab in Taiwan so device makers can measure the performance of their devices with Snapdragon Sound, including audio quality, latency and connectivity. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Qualcomm bets on wireless audio with Snapdragon Sound for smartphones, earbuds and headsets," 4 Mar. 2021

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 "act of measuring, instrument for measuring, standard unit of quantity, size, measurable amount, proper proportion, moderation, tempurance," borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin mensūra "act of measuring, dimension determined by measurement, amount, instrument for measuring," from mensus, past participle of mētior, mētīrī "to determine the extent of, mark off by measuring" + -ūra -ure; mētior verbal derivative of an Indo-European noun *meh1-ti- "act of measuring" (whence Old English mǣth "measure, degree, efficacy," Greek mêtis "measure, skill,, craft," Sanskrit māti- "measure, correct understanding"), nominal derivative of a verbal base *meh1-, whence, as a reduplicated present, Sanskrit mímite "(s/he) measures, shares," Avestan framimaθā "(s/he) should arrange"

Note: The irregular past participle mensus, alongside a regular derivative mētītus only found in later classical texts, may have been formed by analogy with pensus, past participle of pendere "to weigh."


Middle English mesuren "to calculate the measurements of, determine the extent of by measuring, apportion, moderate, control, judge," borrowed from Anglo-French mesurer, going back to Late Latin mensūrāre "to calculate the measurements of," derivative of mensūra measure entry 1

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Time Traveler for measure

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for measure

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Measure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce measure (audio) \

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 How to pronounce measure (audio) , ˈmāzh- How to pronounce measure (audio) \

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-​ How to pronounce measure (audio) \

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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