How much more can we take? Gage vs. gauge

Some writing isn’t measuring up in the gauge vs. gage department.

Gauge (with a “u”) relates to measuring. It can mean to measure (verb), instruments that measure (noun) or an actual measurement (noun).

Gage means an item that one offers to prove their pledge is serious (noun).

As the language evolves, gauge soon may become obsolete, at least in American English, where gage increasingly is used in its place. This probably has arisen because for some nautical terms, gage rather than gauge is used when referring to instruments that measure, such as weather gage and lee gage.

Bottom line: Until the shift in the language’s direction is complete, keep using gauge when referring to measurements.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.