a. A reference standard or sample used for the quantitative comparison of properties: The standard kilogram is maintained as a measure of mass.
b. A unit specified by a scale, such as an inch, or by variable conditions, such as a day's march.
c. A system of measurement, such as the metric system.
d. The dimensions, quantity, or capacity of something as ascertained by comparison with a standard: curtains made to measure; took his measure for the suit jacket.
e. A device used for measuring.
f. The act of measuring: By measure the picture was four feet tall.
2. An evaluation or a basis of comparison: "the final measure of the worth of a society" (Joseph Wood Krutch).
3. Extent or degree: The problem was in large measure caused by his carelessness.
a. A definite quantity that has been measured out: a measure of wine.
b. A fitting amount: a measure of recognition.
c. A limited amount or degree: a measure of goodwill.
a. Limit; bounds: generosity knowing no measure.
b. Appropriate restraint; moderation: "The union of ... fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal" (William James).
a. An action taken as a means to an end; an expedient: measures taken to improve energy efficiency.
b. A law or ballot initiative adopted by a legislature as a remedy for a problem.
a. Poetic meter.
b. Music The metric unit between two bars on the staff; a bar.
v. meas·ured, meas·ur·ing, meas·ures
a. To ascertain the dimensions, quantity, or capacity of: measured the height of the ceiling.
b. To mark, lay out, or establish dimensions for by measuring: measure off an area.
c. To mark off or apportion, usually with reference to a given unit of measurement: measure out a pint of milk.
d. To allot or distribute as if by measuring; mete: The revolutionary tribunal measured out harsh justice.
a. To estimate by evaluation or comparison: "I gave them an account ... of the situation as far as I could measure it" (Winston S. Churchill).
b. To bring into comparison: She measured her power with that of a dangerous adversary.
3. To serve as a measure of: The inch measures length.
4. To consider or choose with care; weigh: He measures his words with caution.
5. Archaic To travel over: "We must measure twenty miles today" (Shakespeare).
1. To be of a specific measurement: The room measures 12 by 20 feet.
2. To take a measurement.
3. To allow of measurement: White sugar measures more easily than brown.
1. To be the equal of something; have similar quality.
2. To have the necessary qualifications: a candidate who just didn't measure up.
1. In excess.
2. Without limit.
for good measure
In addition to the required amount.
in a/some measure
To a degree: The new law was in a measure harmful.
[Middle English, from Old French mesure, from Latin mēnsūra, from mēnsus, past participle of mētīrī, to measure; see mē-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)measure
from "Roses of the South," a waltz by Johann Strauss the Younger
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.