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 measuring (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 measurer (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 It is initiated in equal measure by doctors and patients, often to break the ice between them or to help to soften the impact of a difficult medical conversation. Richard Schiffman, Star Tribune, "No joke – laughter is healthy," 9 Oct. 2020 Piper said the provisions in the measure should have just been created through legislation. Trisha Thadani,, "S.F. small businesses are struggling. Here’s how candidates for the Board of Supervisors propose helping them," 7 Oct. 2020 This version of Faerun generally seems to hate your character and to love innocent people being murdered, in very nearly equal measure. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "I played 15 hours of Baldur’s Gate 3 early access, and I want them back," 6 Oct. 2020 These works are complemented in equal measure by more recent leftist theorists such as Howard Zinn, Henry Giroux, and Richard Rorty. Mike Gonzalez, National Review, "To Tackle Critical Theory in the K–12 Classroom, Start with Colleges of Education," 5 Oct. 2020 That this is no longer the case is, in no small measure, thanks to the work of this year’s laureates—Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice. The Economist, "Screen savers The Nobel prize for medicine goes for identifying hepatitis C," 5 Oct. 2020 Moderates, on both the left and right, were most likely to turn on candidates in equal measure, while Democrats and Republicans were equally willing to ignore anti-Democratic actions, Svolik said. TheWeek, "Democrats and Republicans equally willing to stick with candidate who breaks democratic norms, study finds," 30 Sep. 2020 Nobody who watched was left in any doubt about the core argument of Mr. Trump’s campaign, which is in large measure about the assertion that his foe isn’t up to the demanding job of sitting behind the Resolute Desk. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "Trump Rolls the Dice in a Big Debate Gamble," 30 Sep. 2020 But the conservative MacIver Institute took another tack, zeroing in on the formula used to establish the positivity rate to claim that errors by the state Department of Health are what is actually causing the increase in that key measure. Eric Litke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Analysis bashing Wisconsin's COVID-19 calculations is mistaken," 30 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The national advocacy campaign also focuses on data collection to measure the incidence and prevalence of stigma, as well as the effectiveness of interventions and resources. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Chris Cornell's Daughter Toni Cornell Launches 'Stop the Stigma' Initiative & Pens Heartfelt Letter About Addiction," 9 Oct. 2020 This profile of loss can be broadened further to measure excess deaths above typical mortality rates. Youyou Zhou, Scientific American, "COVID-19 Is Now the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.," 8 Oct. 2020 Another way to show the Browns' improvement in avoiding big plays this season is with Football Outsiders' second-level yards and open-field yards, which measure running plays of 5-10 yards and 10-plus yards, respectively. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "3 ways the Browns have improved their run defense in 2020," 7 Oct. 2020 This was the moment the Padres waited for to measure and test themselves, when cornered and wounded and gasping for postseason air. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres fight to end but fall short in NLDS Game 2 against Dodgers," 7 Oct. 2020 To measure turnover among troopers, the newspaper honed in on the dates of hire and departure of 5,000 troopers listed in a database of sworn officers statewide provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Brittany Wallman,, "How we reported this story," 7 Oct. 2020 For the Paris agreement to reach its goals, JPMorgan said, businesses and investors must figure out how to better measure carbon output and then make improvements that will require massive investment and spending. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "The Capital Note: Bulls & Bullies," 7 Oct. 2020 The census, which is mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, is conducted every 10 years to measure the population and, among other things, determine how many seats in Congress each state receives. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "DHS threat assessment warns of foreign meddling in 2020 election and census," 6 Oct. 2020 The council is supposed to set objective standards to measure ad impressions, but in practice its role may more closely resemble that of the credit-rating agencies that slapped AAA ratings on junk mortgage securities. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Ad Tech Could Be the Next Internet Bubble," 5 Oct. 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

13 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Measure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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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 measuring (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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