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A dipstick used to measure the level of engine oil.

Alternative forms[edit]


dip +‎ stick


  • IPA(key): /ˈdɪpstɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪpstɪk


dipstick (plural dipsticks)

  1. A stick or rod used to measure the depth of a liquid. Often used to check the level at which a liquid in an opaque or inaccessible tank or reservoir stands; gauge.
    I haven't checked the oil level of my car's motor since I lost the dipstick three months ago.
  2. (slang) A penis.
  3. (slang, derogatory) A useless person of inferior intellect; a dipshit.
    That referee is a right dipstick.



dipstick (third-person singular simple present dipsticks, present participle dipsticking, simple past and past participle dipsticked)

  1. To check (a person) for their understanding of something, as of a lesson, or attitude toward something.
    • 1990 August 12, David L. Kirp, “The classroom according to Hunter”, in Los Angeles Times:
      What most educators mean by “doing Madeline Hunter” is using her seven-step approach to planning a lesson. In Santa Barbara, as in most of her road shows, several hours are devoted to spelling out this technique, which calls for specific acts of review, introduction, explanation, “modeling” (demonstrating), “dipsticking” (checking for understanding), “monitored practice” and independent study.
    • 2002 July 25, Todd S. Purdum, “Embattled, Scrutinized, Powell Soldiers On”, in The New York Times:
      In private, Secretary Powell, an amateur automotive mechanic, complains that old friends spend too much time sympathetically taking his temperature — “dip-sticking me,” as he puts it.
  2. (mechanical engineering) To measure the level of a fluid using a dipstick.
    If one of the fuel gauges is inoperative (flight is not permitted if both have failed), the tanks have to be dipsticked before and after each fueling to confirm the aircraft's fuel status.

See also[edit]