• synonyms


or cal·li·per

See more synonyms for caliper on Thesaurus.com
  1. Usually calipers. an instrument for measuring thicknesses and internal or external diameters inaccessible to a scale, consisting usually of a pair of adjustable pivoted legs.
  2. any of various calibrated instruments for measuring thicknesses or distances between surfaces, usually having a screwed or sliding adjustable piece.Compare vernier caliper.
  3. thickness or depth, as of paper or a tree.
  4. Usually calipers. the pincers of an earwig.
  5. Automotive. the part of a disc-brake assembly that straddles the disc and presses the brake pads against it.
  6. a similar part used with a hand brake on a bicycle.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to measure with calipers.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to use calipers.
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Origin of caliper

First recorded in 1580–90; presumably variant of caliber
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for calipers

Historical Examples

  • Measure frequently with the calipers to see that the dimensions are correct.

    Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting

    William T. Hornaday

  • The engraving plainly shows how calipers for this purpose are made, and how used.

  • A full 1⁄32 inch may be left to trim off after the calipers are put together.

  • When the surfaces of work are to be parallel, they can be measured with calipers.

  • Very accurate measurements can be made with calipers, but to become expert in their use requires experience.

    Turning and Boring

    Franklin D. Jones

British Dictionary definitions for calipers


  1. the usual US spelling of calliper
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for calipers



1620s, short for calliper compass (1580s), a device used to measure caliber (q.v.). Related: Calipers.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

calipers in Medicine


  1. An instrument consisting essentially of two curved hinged legs, used to measure thickness and distances.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

calipers in Science


  1. An instrument consisting of two curved legs connected at a hinge, used to measure thickness and distance. Often used in the plural as calipers.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.