met·​ric | \ ˈme-trik How to pronounce metric (audio) \

Definition of metric

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 metrics plural : a part of prosody that deals with metrical (see metrical sense 1) structure the analytical study of metric— T. S. Eliot
2 : a standard of measurement no metric exists that can be applied directly to happinessScientific Monthly
3 : a mathematical function that associates a real nonnegative number analogous to distance with each pair of elements in a set such that the number is zero only if the two elements are identical, the number is the same regardless of the order in which the two elements are taken, and the number associated with one pair of elements plus that associated with one member of the pair and a third element is equal to or greater than the number associated with the other member of the pair and the third element



Definition of metric (Entry 2 of 3)

: of, relating to, or using the metric system a metric study
variants: or -metrical

Definition of -metric (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of, employing, or obtained by (such) a meter galvanometric
2 : of or relating to (such) an art, process, or science of measuring geometrical

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Did You Know?

The metric system was invented in France in the years following the French Revolution, and a version of it is now used in most of the world to measure distance, weight, and volume. Basic metric units include the kilogram (the basic unit of weight), the liter (the basic unit of volume), and of course the meter (the basic unit of length—see below). Metric—or more often metrical—can also refer to the basic underlying rhythm of songs and poetry. So while the scientists' measurements are usually metric, the poets' are usually metrical.

Examples of metric in a Sentence

Noun according to the usual metrics by which we judge fiction, this novel is an utter failure Adjective The metric unit of energy is the “joule.”
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The county's 21-day rolling average, a metric used by state health officials, now is at 100 new cases a day. Dan Horn, The Enquirer, "Protests probably didn't cause Hamilton County's recent coronavirus surge," 2 July 2020 Given that women make up about 10 percent of national leaders, the presence of Wilmès and Jacobs on the bottom-20 list for this key metric doesn’t support the thesis that women leaders are doing any better (or any worse) than men. Hilda Bastian, Wired, "What the Data Really Says About Women Leaders and the Pandemic," 1 July 2020 Tuesdaythe positive test metric was inconclusive, with the number of positive tests over the past seven days on the rise in eight counties, including Marion, Hamilton, Tippecanoe, Porter, Monroe, Lawrence, Vandenburgh and Delaware. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, "Indiana coronavirus cases: 385 new cases, 16 additional deaths reported," 30 June 2020 Hospitalizations are a key metric that experts are watching in the pandemic. USA TODAY, "Unwanted masks, homeless count, pork processor cleared: News from around our 50 states," 25 June 2020 This metric has been steadily climbing throughout June. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona reports more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases as total case count surpasses 60,000," 25 June 2020 The county also said 647 people went to emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms — another key metric that health officials use to measure the course of the outbreak. Catherine Marfin, Dallas News, "Dallas County officials stress wearing masks as hospitalizations again hit record high," 20 June 2020 Fourteen of the top 20 counties for this metric are in the Black Belt, included all of the top five. Ramsey Archibald |, al, "Black Belt hit hard as coronavirus cases surge in rural Alabama," 19 June 2020 This metric is imperfect because multiple tests can be performed on one person, but each case can only be counted once, which could result in lower case-to-test ratios. Ramsey Archibald |, al, "Black Belt hit hard as coronavirus cases surge in rural Alabama," 19 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Arkansas, where cases have been climbing recently, doesn’t post the unlinked metric online. Steve Thompson, Washington Post, "Contact tracing is a race. But few U.S. states say how fast they’re running.," 4 July 2020 Arkansas, where cases have been climbing recently, doesn't post the unlinked metric online. Steve Thompson, Anchorage Daily News, "US states reveal little about success in contact tracing," 4 July 2020 Instead, the industry is getting let off the hook for up to 200 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, "Airlines are off the hook for up to 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions," 1 July 2020 But public health officials and experts say the heavy reliance on statewide hospital data is a misleading and sometimes irresponsible metric to justify holding back on new restrictions, the Associated Press reports. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: June 26-27," 28 June 2020 Texas’ high point for the metric was 13.86% on April 13. Allie Morris, Dallas News, "Gov. Greg Abbott halts elective surgeries in big metros, pauses further reopenings as Texas’ coronavirus cases spike," 25 June 2020 By that same metric, about half of the US shale industry is technically insolvent at $20 per barrel. Matt Egan, CNN, "30% of shale oil companies could go belly up if crude stays this cheap," 23 June 2020 These officials say new cases is not the best metric to monitor the dangers of the disease, and look to hospitalizations and deaths. Fox News, "Texas’ Abbott calls state’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases ‘unacceptable’," 23 June 2020 Hospitalizations are hitting new highs, too, and that metric can’t be attributed to simply doing more tests. Dallas News, "Not so fast, boss: As COVID-19 cases spike in Texas, more delay their return to the office," 19 June 2020

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


1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1862, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for metric


Greek metrikē, from feminine of metrikos in meter, by measure, from metron measure — more at measure


French métrique, from mètre meter

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Learn More about metric

Time Traveler for metric

Time Traveler

The first known use of metric was in 1760

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Statistics for metric

Last Updated

8 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Metric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for metric



English Language Learners Definition of metric

: of, relating to, or based on the metric system


met·​ric | \ ˈme-trik How to pronounce metric (audio) \

Kids Definition of metric

: of, relating to, or based on the metric system metric measurements


met·​ric | \ ˈme-trik How to pronounce metric (audio) \

Medical Definition of metric

: of, relating to, or using the metric system a metric study

Other Words from metric

metrically \ -​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce metrically (audio) \ adverb

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