noun, verb (used with object)


or cal·li·per



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.
any of various calibrated instruments for measuring thicknesses or distances between surfaces, usually having a screwed or sliding adjustable piece.Compare vernier caliper.
thickness or depth, as of paper or a tree.
Usually calipers. the pincers of an earwig.
Automotive. the part of a disc-brake assembly that straddles the disc and presses the brake pads against it.
a similar part used with a hand brake on a bicycle.

verb (used with object)

to measure with calipers.

verb (used without object)

to use calipers.

Origin of caliper

First recorded in 1580–90; presumably variant of caliber Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for calliper

Historical Examples of calliper

British Dictionary definitions for calliper


US caliper


Also called: calliper compasses (often plural) an instrument for measuring internal or external dimensions, consisting of two steel legs hinged together
Also called: calliper splint med a splint consisting of two metal rods with straps attached, for supporting or exerting tension on the leg


(tr) to measure the dimensions of (an object) with callipers

Word Origin for calliper

C16: variant of calibre



the usual US spelling of calliper
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 calliper

variant of caliper. Related: Callipers.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

calliper in Medicine



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

calliper in Science



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