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From Middle English gage, gaugen, from Anglo-Norman, Old Northern French gauger (compare Modern French jauger from Old French jaugier), from gauge (gauging rod), from Frankish *galga (measuring rod, pole), from Proto-Germanic *galgô (pole, stake, cross), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰAlgʰ-, *ǵʰAlg- (perch, long switch). Cognate with Old High German galgo, Old Frisian galga, Old English ġealga (cross-beam, gallows), Old Norse galgi (cross-beam, gallows), Old Norse gelgja (pole, perch).



gauge (plural gauges)

  1. A measure; a standard of measure; an instrument to determine dimensions, distance, or capacity; a standard
    • 2007. Zerzan, John. Silence. p. 2.
      The record of philosophy vis-à-vis silence is generally dismal, as good a gauge as any to its overall failure.
    • Burke
      the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt
  2. An act of measuring.
  3. Any instrument for ascertaining or regulating the level, state, dimensions or forms of things
  4. A thickness of sheet metal or wire designated by any of several numbering schemes.
  5. (rail transport) The distance between the rails of a railway.
  6. (mathematics, analysis) A semi-norm; a function that assigns a non-negative size to all vectors in a vector space.
  7. (knitting) The number of stitches per inch, centimetre, or other unit of distance.
  8. (nautical) Relative positions of two or more vessels with reference to the wind.
    A vessel has the weather gauge of another when on the windward side of it, and the lee gauge when on the lee side of it.
  9. (nautical) The depth to which a vessel sinks in the water.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Totten to this entry?)
  10. (plastering) The quantity of plaster of Paris used with common plaster to make it set more quickly.
  11. That part of a shingle, slate, or tile, which is exposed to the weather, when laid; also, one course of such shingles, slates, or tiles.
  12. (firearms) A unit of measurement which describes how many spheres of bore diameter of a shotgun can be had from one pound of lead; 12 gauge is roughly equivalent to .75 caliber.
  13. (slang, by extension) A shotgun (synecdoche for 12 gauge shotgun, the most common chambering for combat and hunting shotguns).
    • 1996, “Illusions”, in Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, performed by Cypress Hill:
      I'm tryin to find ways to cope / But I ain't fuckin' round with the gauge or a rope
    • 2000, “Grab The Gauge”, in Underground Vol. 3: Kings of Memphis, performed by Three 6 Mafia:
      It happens everyday don't make me grab the gauge / Dangerously I play, I best to kill with the gauge / And put ya body in the back of that grey Chevrolet
  14. A tunnel-like ear piercing consisting of a hollow ring embedded in the lobe.
    • 2013, Destiny Patterson, ‎Samantha Beckworth, ‎Jennifer Proctor, Arose (page 150)
      Jenni didn't really look as though she fit in with the rest of the girls here, she had a nose piercing and angel bites, her long curly dark brown hair with red highlights was pulled back exposing gauges and many other ear piercings and a tattoo []

Derived termsEdit



gauge (third-person singular simple present gauges, present participle gauging, simple past and past participle gauged)

  1. (transitive) To measure or determine with a gauge; to measure the capacity of.
  2. (transitive) To estimate.
  3. (transitive) To appraise the character or ability of; to judge of.
    • Shakespeare
      You shall not gauge me / By what we do to-night.
  4. (textile, transitive) To draw into equidistant gathers by running a thread through it.
  5. (transitive) To mix (a quantity of ordinary plaster) with a quantity of plaster of Paris.
  6. (transitive) To chip, hew or polish (stones, bricks, etc) to a standard size and/or shape.


See alsoEdit


Old FrenchEdit


gauge f (oblique plural gauges, nominative singular gauge, nominative plural gauges)

  1. Alternative form of jauge