Gage vs. Gauge: When to Use Gauge vs. Gage (with Useful Examples)

Sometimes two words can be spelled so similarly that it seems that they must have at least some similarities in meaning, yet in reality, they are very different. A great example is the pair gage vs. gauge. While they differ by a single letter, their meanings couldn’t be further away from each other. And still, many people use the one instead of the other way too often. So, what does each of the words mean?

Gage vs. Gauge

Key Takeaways

  • Gage is something deposited to guarantee good faith. It can also be a verb that means “to offer something to prove one’s good faith”.
  • Gauge is an instrument that measures the amount, the volume, or the magnitude of something. It also refers to the size or capacity of something. Finally, it can be used as a verb to mean “to determine the magnitude, volume or amount of something”.

Gage vs. Gauge

Gage vs. Gauge: Definition

What Is Gage?

Gage refers to an item that is given as a pledge or security. In historical contexts, this term might have been used to signify a challenge, where one party would throw down a glove or another item as a way of demanding satisfaction, such as in a duel. The word “gage” can indeed be an alternative spelling of “gauge,” although this is less common and can be considered archaic or a variant.

  • Example: A knight might throw down a gauntlet as a gage to challenge another to a duel.

What Is Gauge?

Gauge, on the other hand, is commonly used to describe a measure or a standard of measurement. It can refer to the thickness of a wire, the distance between the rails on a railroad, or an instrument used to measure dimensions, pressure, or temperature.

Types of Gauges:

  • Pressure Gauge: Measures the pressure of a gas or liquid.
  • Rain Gauge: Collects and measures the amount of rainfall.
  • Thickness Gauge: Measures the thickness of various materials.

Usage in a sentence:

  • We used a pressure gauge to ensure the tire was inflated to the correct level.

When to Use Gage vs. Gauge

It’s very rare that you’ll see gage in a sentence because this word is becoming obsolete. However, it can sometimes act as a synonym to deposit, e.g. “Her house was a gage for the bank”. You can also find the phrase “Cousin, throw up your gage” in Shakespeare’s Richard II. There, gage referred to something that can be thrown down to challenge someone else for a fight, like a glove. Therefore, throwing up the gage means canceling the challenge. The fruit greengage can be shortened and called gage as well. Finally, sometimes this is how the word gauge is spelled, though it isn’t the preferred spelling.

As for gauge. it’s used a lot more often. For instance, the air gauge can tell you the pressure of your car tires. If you use this word as a verb, you might say that astronomers are able to gauge the distance between the Earth and a certain star judging by the light this star emits.

There are two things that you can remember to never confuse gage and gauge again. Firstly, gauge has to do with measurements, and both of these words have the letter in them. Secondly, there’s very little chance that you’ll need to use the word gage in your writing because it’s almost obsolete. So, when in doubt, you can be about 99% sure that the correct word will be gauge.

Gage vs. Gauge Examples

Examples of Gage

  • To secure the loan, the merchant offered his finest horse as a gage until he could repay the debt in full.
  • In the historical novel, the protagonist presented a family heirloom as a gage of his promise to return and marry his beloved.
  • The squire handed over his sword as a gage to the knight, vowing to serve loyally until it was rightfully earned back.
  • During the peace negotiations, the tribal leader gave a sacred relic as a gage of good faith to the neighboring tribe.
  • As a gage for the borrowed sum of money, the farmer left his grandfather’s watch with the lender.
  • In times of old, a gage could be something as simple as a glove thrown to the ground to signify a challenge or agreement.

Examples of Gauge

  • The engineer used a pressure gauge to check the steam levels in the pipes.
  • Before starting her car, she glanced at the fuel gauge to make sure she had enough gas for the trip.
  • The doctor used a blood pressure gauge to measure the patient’s blood pressure during the check-up.
  • The pilot checked the aircraft’s altitude gauge before beginning the descent.
  • To ensure the fabric was cut straight, the tailor used a gauge to measure the distance from the edge.
  • The dashboard of the vehicle displayed several gauges, including the speedometer and tachometer.

Gage vs. Gauge: Practice and Exercises

Worksheet: Understanding the Differences Between “Gage” vs. “Gauge”

Instructions: Choose whether the correct word to fill in the blank is “Gage” or “Gauge”. Write your answer on the line provided.

  1. The mechanic used a pressure _______ to check the air in the tires. Answer: __________
  2. In medieval times, throwing down a glove was a way to _______ someone to a duel. Answer: __________
  3. To assess the thickness of sheet metal, one would use a micrometer _______. Answer: __________
  4. The finance company will require a property _______ before approving the loan. Answer: __________
  5. The dashboard of the car has a fuel _______ that indicates how much gasoline is left in the tank. Answer: __________
  6. In some historical contexts, a knight might _______ his life for the honor of his king. Answer: __________
  7. When installing the new machinery, it is important to _______ the level of the surface accurately. Answer: __________
  8. The jeweler took a _______ of the customer’s finger to determine the ring size. Answer: __________
  9. The barometer is a type of weather _______ that measures atmospheric pressure. Answer: __________
  10. He offered his car as a _______ for the performance of his duty. Answer: __________

Answers and Explanations:

  1. Gauge. The correct word is “gauge,” which refers to an instrument that measures or assesses something, in this case, tire pressure.
  2. Gage. The correct word is “gage,” which historically means a pledge or challenge, often for combat or a duel.
  3. Gauge. The correct word is “gauge,” referring to a tool used to measure the thickness of materials.
  4. Gage. The correct word is “gage,” which can mean a pledge or security, in this case, implying a valuation of property to secure a loan.
  5. Gauge. The correct word is “gauge,” as it refers to an instrument that shows the amount or level of something, here indicating the fuel level in a car.
  6. Gage. The correct word is “gage,” which can mean a pledge, often of one’s life or significant personal value, for a cause or honor.
  7. Gauge. The correct word is “gauge,” which means to measure or estimate something, in this case, the level of a surface.
  8. Gauge. The correct word is “gauge,” as it refers to a measurement, here of a finger for ring sizing.
  9. Gauge. The correct word is “gauge,” which is a device used to measure something, like atmospheric pressure in the case of a barometer.
  10. Gage. The correct word is “gage,” which can mean a pledge or a token of commitment, in this scenario, the car is the token of commitment for the performance of a duty.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you correctly spell the device used for measuring?

The correct spelling for the device used in measuring is ‘gauge.’ This term is frequently used when referring to instruments that measure pressure, distance, thickness, and other quantitative traits.

What’s the proper way to say you’re assessing someone’s reaction?

When we are assessing someone’s reaction, we use the term ‘gauge.’ For example, “We need to gauge the audience’s reaction to our presentation.”

Can you explain the difference between ‘gage’ and ‘gauge’?

Yes, ‘gage’ and ‘gauge’ are distinct in meaning. ‘Gage’ is an archaic term that can mean a pledge or a challenge, often seen in historical contexts. On the other hand, ‘gauge’ refers to a measurement instrument or the act of measuring.

Why is ‘gage’ sometimes used instead of ‘gauge’ in certain contexts?

‘Gage’ is sometimes used instead of ‘gauge’ in specific historical or legal contexts to denote a pledge, a challenge, or a token of defiance. It is also retained in some expressions, like “throw down the gage.”

How can I properly use ‘gage’ in a sentence?

You can use ‘gage’ in a sentence to imply a pledge or a challenge. For example, “In medieval times, a knight might throw down his gage as a challenge to a duel.”

What are some common synonyms for ‘gage’ when referring to a measurement device?

When referring to a measurement device, ‘gage’ is not the correct term; ‘gauge’ should be used. Common synonyms for ‘gauge’ include meter, measure, as well as specific types like manometer, barometer, or speedometer, depending on the context.