English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In Italy when people say they measure themselves, they are not only measuring their height, or their waistlines. Instead they are measuring how well they do something in a challenging or difficult situation. It's like saying, I measured my expertise.

It is similar to put yourself to the test but it doesn't quite convey the same meaning. Put yourself to the test is about seeing where your limits lie. Misurarsi (measure oneself) on the other hand, isn't so much about competing against yourself, it's saying whether you will sink or swim in a specific situation. Will you cope? Do you have enough skill/knowledge/expertise to overcome this challenging episode?

I'm sure there is a phrasal verb or idiom that means you can "measure yourself" in a difficult situation, I just can't think of it.

share|improve this question
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King Jr. – bib Oct 23 '13 at 1:40
and dozens others. – bib Oct 23 '13 at 1:42
up vote 6 down vote accepted

English has an extremely similar idiom:

Alice measured up the challenge before her.

Bob tried to compete but didn't quite measure up.

share|improve this answer
Also of note is the phrase "reflection" or "self-reflection" but it really only applies to past events: "Charles paused for a moment of self-reflection." – MrHen Oct 23 '13 at 0:13
Could you tell me if "She wanted to see if her English measured up" sounds idiomatic/natural? – Mari-Lou A Oct 23 '13 at 6:00
@Mari-LouA Yes, it sounds perfectly natural. – Pitarou Oct 23 '13 at 6:27

If you said, "I'm taking on this challenge to measure myself." your meaning would probably be understood. But a more accurate English translation would be "to test myself" or "to prove myself".

share|improve this answer

'"To take measure of' someone" might be a suitable phrasing.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.