meter

noun (1)
me·​ter | \ ˈmē-tər How to pronounce meter (audio) \

Definition of meter

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1a : systematically arranged and measured rhythm (see rhythm sense 1) in verse:
(1) : rhythm that continuously repeats a single basic pattern iambic meter
(2) : rhythm characterized by regular recurrence of a systematic arrangement of basic patterns in larger figures ballad meter
b : a measure or unit of metrical verse usually used in combination pentameter — compare foot sense 4
c : a fixed metrical pattern : verse form
2 : the basic recurrent rhythmical pattern of note values, accents, and beats per measure in music

meter

noun (2)
met·​er | \ ˈmē-tər How to pronounce meter (audio) \

Definition of meter (Entry 2 of 6)

: one that measures especially : an official measurer of commodities

meter

noun (3)
me·​ter | \ ˈmē-tər How to pronounce meter (audio) \

Definition of meter (Entry 3 of 6)

: the base unit of length in the International System of Units that is equal to the distance traveled by light in a vacuum in ¹/₂₉₉,₇₉₂,₄₅₈ second or to about 39.37 inches — see Metric System Table

meter

noun (4)
me·​ter | \ ˈmē-tər How to pronounce meter (audio) \

Definition of meter (Entry 4 of 6)

1 : an instrument for measuring and sometimes recording the time or amount of something a parking meter a gas meter
2 : postage meter also : a marking printed by a postage meter

meter

verb
me·​ter | \ ˈmē-tər How to pronounce meter (audio) \
metered; metering; meters

Definition of meter (Entry 5 of 6)

transitive verb

1 : to measure by means of a meter
2 : to supply in a measured or regulated amount
3 : to print postal indicia on by means of a postage meter

Definition of -meter (Entry 6 of 6)

: instrument or means for measuring barometer

Did You Know?

Meter is a metric measurement slightly longer than a yard; thus, a 100-meter dash might take you a second longer than a 100-yard dash. But the word has a different sense in music, where people aren't separated by whether they use the metric system. For a musician, the meter is the regular background rhythm, expressed by the "time signature" written at the beginning of a piece or section: 2/2, 2/4, 3/8, 4/4, 6/8, etc. Within a meter, you can create rhythms that range from the simple to the complex. So, for example, "America the Beautiful" is in 4/4 meter (or "4/4 time"), but so are most of the rhythmically complex songs written by Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, or Stevie Wonder. In ordinary conversation, though, most people use "rhythm" to include meter and everything that's built on top of it. In poetry, meter has much the same meaning; however, poetic meters aren't named with numbers but instead with traditional Greek and Latin terms such as iambic and dactylic.

First Known Use of meter

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1797, in the meaning defined above

Noun (4)

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1878, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for meter

Noun (1)

Middle English metre, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin metrum, borrowed from Greek métron "measure, space measured, (in plural) proportions, poetic meter," perhaps going back to Indo-European *mh1-tro-, zero-grade derivative of a verbal base *meh1- "measure" measure entry 1

Note: The word meter in the sense "poetic meter" is attested twice in Old English as a borrowing from Latin, but there is no continuity between this use and occurrence in later Middle English.

Noun (2)

Middle English, from meten "to mete entry 1" + -er -er entry 2

Noun (3)

borrowed from French mètre, borrowed from Greek métron "measure" — more at meter entry 1

Noun (4)

probably originally, as short for gas-meter "instrument for measuring the quantity of gas passing through an outlet," to be identified with meter entry 2; later uses appear to be extracted from compounds with -meter, generalized to refer to any measuring device

Verb

derivative of meter entry 4

Noun combining form

borrowed from French & New Latin; French -mètre, borrowed from New Latin -meter, borrowed from Greek -metron (as in hodómetron "instrument for measuring distance, odometer"), from métron "measure, instrument for measuring" — more at meter entry 1

Note: The earliest of such New Latin compounds is perhaps altimeter altimeter.

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Time Traveler for meter

Time Traveler

The first known use of meter was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Meter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meter. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for meter

English Language Learners Definition of -meter

: device used to measure something

meter

noun
me·​ter | \ ˈmē-tər How to pronounce meter (audio) \

Kids Definition of meter

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : a planned rhythm in poetry that is usually repeated
2 : the repeated pattern of musical beats in a measure

meter

noun

Kids Definition of meter (Entry 2 of 4)

: a measure of length on which the metric system is based and which is equal to about 39.37 inches

meter

noun

Kids Definition of meter (Entry 3 of 4)

: an instrument for measuring and sometimes recording the amount of something a gas meter

-meter

noun suffix

Kids Definition of -meter

: instrument for measuring thermometer

meter

noun
me·​ter
variants: or chiefly British metre \ ˈmēt-​ər How to pronounce meter (audio) \

Medical Definition of meter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the base unit of length in the International System of Units that is equal to the distance traveled in a vacuum by light in 1/299,792,458 second or to about 39.37 inches

meter

noun

Medical Definition of meter (Entry 2 of 2)

: an instrument for measuring and sometimes recording the time or amount of something

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Comments on meter

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