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 Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Monday that nearly every measure that health officials use to track the virus’ grip on the community is worsening. Marina Starleaf Riker,, "San Antonio shatters record for patients hospitalized with COVID-19," 18 Jan. 2021 Unemployment benefits, included in the initial $2 trillion coronavirus relief measure passed in March, eventually expired while Congress delayed the second round of aid. Cameron Sperance,, "A lower threat of evictions, foreclosures in Mass., but trouble looms," 17 Jan. 2021 Blumenthal said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ previous public support for the concept behind his and Booker’s measure is an indicator of the incoming Biden administration’s likely stance. Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY, "Senators frustrated by NCAA's 'striking hypocrisy' in failure to act on athletes' benefits," 15 Jan. 2021 State senator Julie Slama proposed legislation earlier this month that would reimpose the winner-take-all method for choosing Nebraska’s electoral votes, as well as a voter ID measure. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Republican Plot to Rig the 2024 Election," 15 Jan. 2021 In December, Congress finalized another coronavirus relief measure that provided an additional $284 billion for the program. Washington Post, "Debt collectors, payday lenders collected over $500 million in federal pandemic relief," 15 Jan. 2021 Also at the meeting, the Council approved a measure allowing St. Tammany Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 to handle fire and emergency dispatch for the city. Andrew Canulette,, "Slidell's Fritchie Park gym will be COVID-19 vaccine site, mayor says," 14 Jan. 2021 The county started tracking companies violating health orders by forming a business compliance unit in November, after the San Mateo Board of Supervisors approved a measure allowing for the creation of such a team in August. Shwanika Narayan,, "Here are the San Mateo County businesses fined for violating COVID-19 orders," 14 Jan. 2021 Lawmakers also approved a measure allowing for in-home liquor delivery, also sponsored by Zalewski. Cole Lauterbach, Washington Examiner, "A look at what passed and what didn’t in Illinois’ frantic final hours of session," 14 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These devices measure blood oxygen levels and can be used to determine which COVID-19 patients need supplemental oxygen—insights that benefit many more patients than ventilators. Linda Nordling, Science | AAAS, "A Kenyan health economist investigates the pandemic's puzzling course in his country," 29 Dec. 2020 Also measure each side of the opening and add an inch to the longest measurement for the minimum screen height. Jennifer Blair,, "The best fireplace screen," 23 Dec. 2020 These boards measure 18 x 12 inches and are 1.5-inches thick. Popular Science, "High-quality cutting boards for every cook," 22 Dec. 2020 The building will measure about 7,500 square feet and contain eight exam rooms. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Broad View Eye Center to build new office across from proposed Aldi site in Broadview Heights," 19 Dec. 2020 The robot is souped up with cutting-edge technology to measure the conditions on the surface and take a look at what's happening beneath the crust, according to NASA. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "Mars InSight Lander Offers a Sneak Peek at the Red Planet’s Inner Layers," 17 Dec. 2020 That includes establishing a way to measure emissions and creating a database in which manufacturers are required to disclose them. New York Times, "How Biden Can Move His Economic Agenda Without Congress," 15 Dec. 2020 Employee and guest screening will measure and assess signs and symptoms of infection. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Casinos focus on health and safety protocols," 13 Dec. 2020 In the role, Abayomi will lead analytics globally across WMG, offering insights that will allow the company to measure and maximize success for its artists and songwriters. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, "Executive Turntable: 10K Projects Appoints New Head of Creative, Warner Chappell Taps China GM," 4 Dec. 2020

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

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Measure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for measure


How to pronounce measure (audio) How to pronounce measure (audio)

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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