also metre, "poetic measure," Old English meter "meter, versification," from Latin metrum, from Greek metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion," from PIE root *me- "measure" (see meter (n.2)). Possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use) from Old French metre, with specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from Latin metrum.
also metre, unit of length, 1797, from French mètre (18c.), from Greek metron "measure," from PIE root *me- "to measure" (cf. Greek metra "lot, portion," Sanskrit mati "measures," matra "measure," Avestan, Old Persian ma-, Latin metri "to measure"). Developed by French Academy of Sciences for system of weights and measures based on a decimal system originated 1670 by French clergyman Gabriel Mouton. Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the length of a quadrant of the meridian.
"device for measuring," abstracted 1832 from gas-meter, etc., from French -mètre, used in combinations (in English from 1790), from Latin metrum "measure" or cognate Greek metron "measure" (see meter (n.2)). Influenced by English meter "person who measures" (late 14c., agent noun from mete (v.)). As short for parking meter from 1960. Meter maid first recorded 1957; meter reader 1963.
"to measure by means of a meter," 1884, from meter (n.3). Meaning "install parking meters" is from 1957.
The basic unit of length in the metric system; it was originally planned so that the circumference of the Earth would be measured at about forty million meters. A meter is 39.37 inches. Today, the meter is defined to be the distance light travels in 1 / 299,792,458 seconds.