Which is the proper spelling?

"I am just gaging interest"
"I am just gauging interest"

Google searching is giving me inconsistent results.
Also: If the answer is "gaging", why does the 'u' get dropped?

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The Simplified Spelling Board of the early 1900s in the United States made gauge one of its targets in the early 1920s, urging the replacing of au with a to yield gage. From Simplified Spelling Board, Handbook of Simplified Spelling (1920):

Principles Adopted

Its [the Board's] recommendations, accordingly, have been based on the following principles :

1) When current usage offers a choice of spellings, to adopt the shortest and simplest. EXAMPLES : blest, not blessed ; catalog, not catalogue; center, not centre; check, not cheque or checque; gage, not gauge; gram, not gramme; honor, not honour; license, not licence; maneuver, not manoeuvre; mold, not mould; plow, not plough; quartet, not quartette; rime, not rhyme; tho, not though; traveler, not traveller.

However, Cornell Kimball, "Common Misspellings and Dictionary Alternatives," in Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society (1999/2000) reports that adoption of gage has been uneven:

4. Comments on Internet findings

Minuscule, gauge, misspell

For these words there are also dictionary-given alternative spellings.


With gauge, the dictionary-accepted variant is gage, but the situation is different from that of miniscule. In certain fields (science, engineering), gage is the more commonly used, that is, it is the 'standard' spelling. In the figures above, I have simply not counted gage one way or the other (by using the criteria I mentioned in the previous paragraph, gage would be listed with the 'other than standard forms'). This search noted gauge occurred 8879 times for gauge and guage 2211 times. I computed its misspelling rate from those two: 2211/(8879+2211) = 20%. (I also found gage occurred 1848 times during the same period, but did not add that to either of the totals.)

Of course, gage has shown up as an alternative to gauge for centuries, but an Ngram chart of gauging (blue line) versus gaging (red line) over the period 1800–2008 shows a major rise in the incidence of gaging starting around 1903 (near the beginning of the simplified spelling movement, and then fading in the mid-1960s as that movement began to lose steam:

As a copy editor, if I saw gaging in a manuscript, I would peremptorily change it to gauging, regardless of what the subject of the article or book was, unless house style specifically expressed a preference for the variant gaging.

  • Thanks! The only improvement i'd recommend is that I'd put the answer to my question "gauging interest" in a short phrase at the top. – Stephan Aug 6 '15 at 23:43

gauging is UK spelling

gaging is given as an alternative US spelling here.


  • 1
    I believe gage is the wrong word for my question. You "gauge interest", I don't think that you "gage interest" – Stephan Aug 6 '15 at 21:54
  • If you are English then no. According to Merriam-Webster which I quoted (and is a respected American dictionary) you could 'gage interest'. Like you however I much prefer 'gauge'. – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 1:49

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