You can measure the weight - it is called weighing

You can measure the temperature - it is called what?

Is there one English word that means "measure the temperature"

  • 1
    In Danish I believe the nurse can temp you but that could be medical slang – mplungjan Aug 7 '13 at 14:25
  • 1
    Most measuring processes don't seem to have a one word verb: distance (but you can pace something off), humidity, barometric pressure, depth of water though you can mark twain), time. But you can clock speed. – bib Aug 7 '13 at 14:38
  • 1
    Is there one word for "measuring the length" the "height" the depth" the "distance" the "time" etc..? – Mari-Lou A Aug 7 '13 at 16:16
  • 1
    Mark twain is a 19th century US term for measuring two (twain) fathoms depth (12 feet) on a riverboat. Samuel Clemens, who spent many years working on a Mississippi riverboat took Mark Twain as his pen name. – bib Aug 7 '13 at 17:21
  • 1
    @bib You can time something. You can also mass items. – A Brooks Aug 8 '13 at 14:27

I don't believe there is a common single word for taking the temperature of something.

Most likely the difference is that the ability to do so has only been around for 400 years or so, while weighing things probably predates writing.

  • The article you cite indicates that people were measuring temperature as early as the 3rd century BC, but the modern scalar measurements did not occur until the 17th. – bib Aug 7 '13 at 14:51
  • Did the phrase "look that cave-woman look fat" originated before the phrase "look that cave-woman is hot"? – Dilawar Aug 8 '13 at 18:32

The things that come to my mind are checking, testing, taking, or reading for one-time measurements and monitoring or reading for continuous measurement as there is for measuring weight. Because these are somewhat interchangeable depending on the situation and they are all pretty general-use words, I don't think there is simply one word used for measuring temperature. Also, my answer is simply addressing the verbal English my family speaks in Michigan. It may be different elsewhere.

A few examples:

Mom: Johnny is sick. He has a fever.

Dad: Did you check it? (Meaning, "Did you take his temperature?")

:::If I were at the beach with my brother...

Me: Did you test the water?

Him: Yeah, it's not too cold.

*Note that if I asked him if he checked the water, there would be confusion about whether I was asking about the water itself such as its temperature/clarity/other attributes, or something in the water affecting its suitability for swimming/fishing/drinking/etc. By using test, he would know precisely that I was asking about the temperature. See next example.

If my mom asked me to check the turkey, I might just open the oven and make sure it's not burning. If she asked me to test the turkey, she's asking me to use a thermometer. It would make no sense if she asked me to "take the turkey" or "read the turkey" though "monitoring the turkey" would be an abnormally formal way to say "Keep an eye on the turkey" with no direct reference to temperature.

At the doctors offices here they say they are going to take your temperature but sometimes they say they want to read your temperature. When my mom was in the hospital and unconscious, they said they were monitoring her temperature. It would also be properly understood if they were to say they were reading her temperature or even charting her temperature (though I think charting is more like mapping or recording so it is an action taking place after the temperature is measured). But in these cases, there is always a reference to temperature so that we know temperature is what is being measured.

To finish the thought, there are several words my family uses that refer directly to measuring temperature (the one most regularly used is test), but we use different words depending on the situation.

Just testing the waters here...


could it be thermoanalyse?

Not sure if it is a practically useful neologism but I see nothing wrong with it technically as a verb.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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