noun yard·stick \ ˈyärd-ˌstik \
|Updated on: 25 Jul 2018

Definition of yardstick

1 a : a graduated measuring stick three feet (0.9144 meter) long
b : a standard basis of calculation
  • a yardstick for measuring astronomical distances
2 : a standard for making a critical judgment : criterion
  • measured by the yardstick of her first book
  • was a great success by any yardstick

Examples of yardstick in a Sentence

  1. Some feel that test scores aren't an adequate yardstick for judging a student's ability.

  2. Ratings are the yardstick by which TV shows are evaluated by networks.

Recent Examples of yardstick from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yardstick.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of yardstick


in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Synonym Discussion of 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

YARDSTICK Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of yardstick for English Language Learners

  • : a long, flat tool that is one yard long and is used to measure things

  • : a rule or specific idea about what is acceptable or desirable that is used to judge or measure something

YARDSTICK Defined for Kids


noun yard·stick \ ˈyärd-ˌstik \

Definition of yardstick for Students

1 : a measuring stick a yard long
2 : a rule or standard by which something is measured or judged
  • His story by any yardstick was dull.

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very hard to disturb or upset

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