A measurer? Doesn't pronounce well

A sensor? Doesn't work because there's a simple counterexample that a ruler takes measurements without being a sensor

Specifically, I'm looking for a word that can be used as a name for a software component that produces measurements.

  • 5
    It depends on what you measure but a general term is a measuring instrument.
    – ermanen
    May 18, 2015 at 17:44
  • 8
    If it measures anything electricly or electronically, it's a meter. Probly that word could be combined with just about anything: depth meter, RPM meter, speedometer, water meter, electric meter, etc. May 18, 2015 at 17:55
  • 1
    If you want something that encompasses yardsticks, voltmeters, stream gauges, and calipers, I think you need to use measuring apparatus. But I think meter would work fine for your application. May 18, 2015 at 20:32
  • I agree with meter generally. However, if it can be inserted and removed, I believe probe is more descriptive. And if it is only counting, counter is more apt. Also, if it is actually collecting/gathering data, then you can consider data recorder as well. Finally, in software, I have seen such components referred to as a statistic, or stat, even though it is a misnomer.
    – jxh
    May 19, 2015 at 2:14
  • Feeding software component that produces measurements into Google (books) yielded: Publisher "a publisher is a sensor that produces measurements." -The Electrical Engineering Handbook
    – Mazura
    May 19, 2015 at 5:48

3 Answers 3


A meter (as opposed to metre).

Or a gauge.

  • +1 for gauge. Meter can be confusing in American English (because we don't have metre) and is almost never used to mean something with which you measure.
    – user85526
    May 18, 2015 at 17:58
  • @GeorgePompidou: It depends on context, I suppose. It will probably work for a software component... May 18, 2015 at 17:59
  • 5
    @GeorgePompidou - Can't understand why you think "meter" wouldn't work in AmE. As John Lawler pointed out in his comment "'sth' meter" is very common. (Although he forgot my favorite: sphygmomanometer.)
    – Oldbag
    May 18, 2015 at 20:26
  • 2
    @GeorgePompidou: In this context, the term meter is the same as the gas meter, or the electric meter, or what the taxi cab runs to track the fare due, which is commonly used in AmE. But, I do associate it mostly with things that figure out usage for the purpose of billing (a electricity meter will report the peak usage for a billing period, and your bill reflects that). OTOH, a speedometer is a type of gauge. On the one hand, it is an instantaneous measure, but in software, this is usually computed with a moving average.
    – jxh
    May 18, 2015 at 21:15
  • 2
    I would argue that a meter is an active measuring instrument. As John Lawler points out, you wouldn't call a yardstick a "meter" (nor even a meter stick, unless you meant that was its size, obviously). A "meter" is a thing that counts or otherwise itself determines some measurement, rather than simply helping you determine it passively. +ermanen's recommendation of (measuring) instrument, which doesn't care whether it's active or passive measuring - that said, if it's software, it's probably active measuring, so meter would work fine.
    – neminem
    May 18, 2015 at 23:38


1.a tool or implement, especially one for delicate or scientific work.

2.a measuring device used to gauge the level, position, speed, etc., of something, especially a motor vehicle or aircraft.


It depends on context.

Although other answers suggest generic words like meter, gauge, instrument, etc. those words are not commonly used in practice.

More typically, we refer to the specific name of the device being used to take the measurements.

For example, a device that measures length might be a ruler. Or a yardstick. Or a tape measure. Or a caliper. Depending on the size and shape of the object and how accurate we need the measurement to be. A device used to measure weight is a scale. Or a balance. To measure current through a wire, we use an ammeter. To measure resistance, we use an ohmmeter. For voltage, a voltmeter. To measure speed we use a speedometer (from inside the vehicle) or a radar gun (from outside the vehicle or object). And so on.

So, to get the best answer, you should specify exactly what you are trying to measure.

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