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From Middle English mesure, from Old French mesure, from Latin mēnsūra (a measuring, rule, something to measure by), from mēnsus, past participle of mētīrī (to measure, mete). Displaced native Middle English mǣte, mete (measure) (n.) (from Old English met (measure), compare Old English mitta (a measure)), Middle English ameten, imeten (to measure) (from Old English āmetan, ġemetan "to mete, measure), Middle English hof, hoof (measure, reason) (from Old Norse hōf (measure, reason)), Old English mǣþ (measure, degree).



measure (plural measures)

  1. The quantity, size, weight, distance or capacity of a substance compared to a designated standard.
  2. An (unspecified) quantity or capacity.
    • 2005, J Coarguo, Hávamál: The Words of the High One a Personal Interpretation:
      but there is never found a foolish man who knows the measure of his stomach
    • 2013, Daniel Taylor, Danny Welbeck leads England's rout of Moldova but hit by Ukraine ban (in The Guardian, 6 September 2013)[1]
      It ended up being a bittersweet night for England, full of goals to send the crowd home happy, buoyed by the news that Montenegro and Poland had drawn elsewhere in Group H but also with a measure of regret about what happened to Danny Welbeck and what it means for Roy Hodgson's team going into a much more difficult assignment against Ukraine.
    a measure of salt
  3. The precise designated distance between two objects or points.
  4. The dimensions or capacity of anything, reckoned according to some standard; size or extent, determined and stated.
    The tailor took my measure for a coat.
    • Bible, Job xi. 9
      The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.
  5. The act of measuring.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  6. A musical designation consisting of all notes and or rests delineated by two vertical bars; an equal and regular division of the whole of a composition.
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, chapter 2/2/2, “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days[2]:
      They danced on silently, softly. Their feet played tricks to the beat of the tireless measure, that exquisitely asinine blare which is England's punishment for having lost America.
  7. (music) The group or grouping of beats, caused by the regular recurrence of accented beats.
  8. (dancing) A regulated movement, especially in a slow and stately dance, corresponding to the time in which the accompanying music is performed.
  9. (poetry) The manner of ordering and combining the quantities, or long and short syllables; meter; rhythm; hence, a metrical foot.
    a poem in iambic measure
  10. A rule, ruler or measuring stick.
  11. A tactic, strategy or piece of legislation.
    • 2013 June 8, “Obama goes troll-hunting”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8839, page 55: 
      The solitary, lumbering trolls of Scandinavian mythology would sometimes be turned to stone by exposure to sunlight. Barack Obama is hoping that several measures announced on June 4th will have a similarly paralysing effect on their modern incarnation, the patent troll.
    He took drastic measures to halt inflation.
  12. (mathematics) A function that assigns a non-negative number to a given set following the mathematical nature that is common among length, volume, probability and the like.
  13. (arithmetic, dated) A number which is contained in a given number a number of times without a remainder; a divisor.
    the greatest common measure of two or more numbers
  14. (geology) A bed or stratum.
    coal measures; lead measures
  15. An indicator; something used to assess some property.
    • 2011 October 23, Phil McNulty, “Man Utd 1-6 Man City”, BBC Sport:
      City were also the victors on that occasion 56 years ago, winning 5-0, but this visit was portrayed as a measure of their progress against the 19-time champions.
    The average price of basic household goods is a measure for inflation.   Honesty is the true measure of a man.


  • (musical designation): bar
  • (precise designated distance): metric



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


measure (third-person singular simple present measures, present participle measuring, simple past and past participle measured)

  1. To ascertain the quantity of a unit of material via calculated comparison with respect to a standard.
    • 2013 June 1, “Towards the end of poverty”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8838, page 11: 
      But poverty’s scourge is fiercest below $1.25 (the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own poverty lines, measured in 2005 dollars and adjusted for differences in purchasing power): people below that level live lives that are poor, nasty, brutish and short.
    We measured the temperature with a thermometer.   You should measure the angle with a spirit level.
  2. To estimate the unit size of something.
    I measure that at 10 centimetres.
  3. To judge, value, or appraise.
    • John Milton
      Great are thy works, Jehovah, infinite / Thy power! what thought can measure thee?
  4. To obtain or set apart; to mark in even increments.
  5. (rare) To traverse, cross, pass along; to travel over.
    • William Shakespeare
      A true devoted pilgrim is not weary / To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps.
  6. To adjust by a rule or standard.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      To secure a contented spirit, measure your desires by your fortunes, not your fortunes by your desires.
  7. To allot or distribute by measure; to set off or apart by measure; often with out or off.
    • Bible, Matthew vii. 2
      With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    • Addison
      That portion of eternity which is called time, measured out by the sun.

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