What is the exact differences between the meaning of the nouns "measure" (w.r.t. measurement, not course of action) and "metric"? Can they be used synonymously? While few dictionaries do not know metric as a noun at all, others are a bit fuzzy about the meaning. In the scientific literature (in my area) they sometimes seem to be used interchangeably. However, quite a lot authors are not native speakers.

Usage examples are,

  • "Depending on the objectives, one need different [measures/metrics] for evaluation."
  • "Reliability is a [metric/measure] to measure the system's ability to survive."
  • "If we use another [measure/metric] we will come up with different results."
  • 1
    Both these words have several idiomatic and technical meanings. We can't answer without the context in which the words are to be used.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 9:40
  • @Rathony: I've changed the question and hope it meets the requirements.
    – Matthias
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 10:05
  • @deadrat: I've edited the question to provide some context.
    – Matthias
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 10:05
  • Measures as in "take measures" means to take specific actions. So I'd say metrics is the better plural. Your second bullet item phrasing: Reliability is a measure [or metric] of the system's ability to survive. As for semantics, reliability isn't a metric; it's a result. A reliability metric would be something like faults per 1K units or mean time to failure.
    – deadrat
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 10:11
  • Please see google.com/#q=measure+vs.+metric Let us know if you still have questions.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 10:40

3 Answers 3


A measure is a general term - the result of a measurement action. A metric is a specific, standard measure used to make a judgement about capability or some other value, often in a technical or management context (e.g. 'mean time between failures' as mentioned by deadrat). An example of a metric in a specific context is a 'key performance indicator (KPI)' used in IT Service Management such as 'number of incidents per annum caused by changes'.


If you write for a technical public (especially mathematicians), prefer "measure", "score" or "indicator" unless you really mean to refer to a metrical space.

Strictly speaking, a measure or distance qualifies for being metrical when it satisfies three conditions [d(a,a) = 0; d(a,b) = d(b,a); and d(a,c) ≤ d(a,b)+d(b,c)].

  • This answer is useless to anyone but a mathematician. And you don't even define what a, b, c and d represent and provide no supporting reference or evidence on which to your assertions can be judged.
    – David
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 19:10

I found this helpful: "A "measure" is a number that is derived from taking a measurement. Your height, weight or temperature would all be measures. In the case of marketing, examples of measures would be the number of impressions, the number of visits to a website or the number of sales generated by campaign on Google's AdWords search network.

In contrast, a "metric" is a calculation between two measures. Typically, the calculation is a form of division. The format of the calculated result can be a percentage, a ratio, a fraction, a decimal or a multiple. " https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140501043526-439374-measures-vs-metrics-for-marketing/

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