yard·​stick ˈyärd-ˌstik How to pronounce yardstick (audio)
: a graduated measuring stick three feet (0.9144 meter) long
: a standard basis of calculation
a yardstick for measuring astronomical distances
: a standard for making a critical judgment : criterion
measured by the yardstick of her first book
was a great success by any yardstick
Choose the Right Synonym for yardstick

standard, criterion, gauge, yardstick, touchstone mean a means of determining what a thing should be.

standard applies to any definite rule, principle, or measure established by authority.

standards of behavior

criterion may apply to anything used as a test of quality whether formulated as a rule or principle or not.

questioned the critic's criteria for excellence

gauge applies to a means of testing a particular dimension (such as thickness, depth, diameter) or figuratively a particular quality or aspect.

polls as a gauge of voter dissatisfaction

yardstick is an informal substitute for criterion that suggests quantity more often than quality.

housing construction as a yardstick of economic growth

touchstone suggests a simple test of the authenticity or value of something intangible.

fine service is one touchstone of a first-class restaurant

Examples of yardstick in a Sentence

Some feel that test scores aren't an adequate yardstick for judging a student's ability. Ratings are the yardstick by which TV shows are evaluated by networks.
Recent Examples on the Web By the new study’s yardstick, U.S. maternal mortality rates look considerably better — similar to those of Canada and the United Kingdom though still higher than those of many other wealthy countries. Robin Fields, ProPublica, 5 Apr. 2024 Empathy should be considered for nursing mothers, rather than using maternity leave as a yardstick for promotion or remuneration. Nihinlola Adeyemi, Forbes, 27 Feb. 2024 But by another yardstick – purchasing power – households recently have returned to their pre-inflation financial health, according to some studies. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, 10 Jan. 2024 The yardstick is what’s called its Mental Health Fingerprint, a system developed exclusively for Rappore by Dr. Kass and Dr. Michael First, who’s renowned as an architect of the DSM industry-standard protocols on psychiatric treatment. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 1 Mar. 2024 Also, one federal yardstick of Southern California pay shows local private-sector wages are up 17% in the past three years. Jonathan Lansner, Orange County Register, 13 Feb. 2024 Also, ponder this national yardstick of house-hunter interest from the Conference Board: 3% of consumers polled had homebuying plans during California buyer’s markets vs. 5% in seller’s markets. Jonathan Lansner, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Nov. 2023 Using the lane as a yardstick, Schwartz’s account put hers at 8 or 9 feet. Neal Rubin, Detroit Free Press, 22 Feb. 2024 These stats could be seen as a rough yardstick of California love – understanding that the linkage between marital status and romance is by no means a certainty. Jonathan Lansner, Orange County Register, 14 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'yardstick.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of yardstick was in 1610

Dictionary Entries Near yardstick

Cite this Entry

“Yardstick.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yardstick. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


yard·​stick -ˌstik How to pronounce yardstick (audio)
: a measuring stick a yard long
: a rule or standard by which something is measured

More from Merriam-Webster on yardstick

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