Gage vs Gauge: Determining the Difference

, Staff Writer
Updated November 5, 2021
Gage - Knight Kneeling Before Lady vs Gauge - Man With Thermometer
    Gage - Knight Kneeling Before Lady vs Gauge - Man With Thermometer
    Irina Cheremisinova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

You’ve probably heard the term gauge, but thought it was spelled gage. However, gage is an entirely separate (and somewhat obscure) word that, while rare, can still be found from time to time. Discover the differences between these two words and which spelling to use.

How to Gauge the Difference

Although gauge and gage are two separate words, they are often used interchangeably to refer to the more common meaning of “a measurement or instrument.” However, gauge is by far the preferred spelling for this meaning. The confusion between gauge and gage typically stems from the fact that their pronunciations are the same.

  • gage - a pledge or token of good faith; something that offers security

  • gauge - a measurement, determination or estimate


Examples of Gage in a Sentence

While the word gage may be obsolete, you might still encounter it in older writings. It typically refers to a token, but can also mean something for security or insurance. In Shakespearean times, it could also mean a challenge. Additionally, the gage spelling is sometimes used to mean gauge, though in this context gauge is widely agreed to be the correct spelling.

  • He deposited a thousand dollars as a gage.

  • The lady gave the knight a gage as a token of affection.

  • The actor quoted Shakespeare’s famous line, “Cousin, throw up your gage.”

How to Use Gauge in Context

Gauge comes from an Old French word jauge or gauger meaning “to standardize or calibrate.” A gauge is a device used to measure the pressure of liquids or gases. It is also used as a verb meaning “to measure or determine something.” Gauge is widely agreed to be the correct spelling for this meaning.

  • The scientist used the gauge to calibrate the air pressure.

  • He tried to gauge her reaction.

  • He used the thermometer to gauge the temperature.

  • The construction worker said he needed a 14-gauge stainless steel sheet.


Learning the Differences Between Words

Sometimes words look and sound very similar but have different meanings. For instance, look at peek, peak and pique. Other words like toward and towards have slightly different spellings but the same meaning.