If you ask your friend, "How do you feel, generally, about loaning your car to people?" your intention might be to gauge his reaction before you flat-out ask if you can borrow his car. To gauge is to measure or test.

The verb gauge means to estimate or measure, while the noun gauge is a tool you can use to make such a measurement. If you've ever seen someone check the air pressure in a tire, the instrument she used was called a tire gauge. The thickness, or diameter, of an item like wire (or the barrel of a gun) is another meaning of gauge.

Definitions of gauge
  1. noun
    a measuring instrument for measuring and indicating a quantity such as the thickness of wire or the amount of rain etc.
    synonyms: gage
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    anemometer, wind gage, wind gauge
    a gauge for recording the speed and direction of wind
    depth gage, depth gauge
    a gauge for measuring the depth of grooves or holes or other concavities
    a graduated rod dipped into a container to indicate the fluid level
    gas gage, gas gauge, gasoline gage, gasoline gauge, petrol gage, petrol gauge
    gauge that indicates the amount of gasoline left in the gasoline tank of a vehicle
    pressure gage, pressure gauge
    gauge for measuring and indicating fluid pressure
    pluviometer, rain gage, rain gauge, udometer
    gauge consisting of an instrument to measure the quantity of precipitation
    strain gage, strain gauge
    a gauge for measuring strain in a surface
    scribing block, surface gage, surface gauge
    gauge consisting of a scriber mounted on an adjustable stand; used to test the accuracy of plane surfaces
    vacuum gage, vacuum gauge
    a gauge for indicating negative atmospheric pressure
    water gage, water gauge, water glass
    gauge for indicating the level of water in e.g. a tank or boiler or reservoir
    wire gage, wire gauge
    gauge for measuring the diameter of wire
    a pressure gauge for comparing pressures of a gas
    a pressure gauge for measuring blood pressure
    water level
    a water gauge that shows the level by showing the surface of the water in a trough or U-shaped tube
    type of:
    measuring device, measuring instrument, measuring system
    instrument that shows the extent or amount or quantity or degree of something
  2. noun
    the distance between the rails of a railway or between the wheels of a train
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    broad gauge
    a railroad track (or its width) broader than the standard 56.5 inches
    narrow gauge
    a railroad track (or its width) narrower than the standard 56.5 inches
    standard gauge
    railroad track having the standard width of 56.5 inches
    type of:
    distance, length
    size of the gap between two places
  3. noun
    the thickness of wire
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    type of:
    the dimension through an object as opposed to its length or width
  4. noun
    diameter of a tube or gun barrel
    synonyms: bore, caliber, calibre
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    type of:
    diam, diameter
    the length of a straight line passing through the center of a circle and connecting two points on the circumference
  5. noun
    accepted or approved instance or example of a quantity or quality against which others are judged or measured or compared
    synonyms: standard of measurement
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    type of:
    criterion, measure, standard, touchstone
    a basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated
  6. verb
    determine the capacity, volume, or contents of by measurement and calculation
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    type of:
    ascertain, determine, find, find out
    establish after a calculation, investigation, experiment, survey, or study
  7. verb
    measure precisely and against a standard
    “the wire is gauged
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    type of:
    measure, quantify
    express as a number or measure or quantity
  8. verb
    judge tentatively or form an estimate of (quantities or time)
    synonyms: approximate, estimate, guess, judge
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    quantise, quantize
    approximate (a signal varying continuously in amplitude) by one whose amplitude is restricted to a prescribed set of discrete values
    gauge something incorrectly or improperly
    place, put, set
    estimate the duration or outcome of something
    lowball, underestimate
    make a deliberately low estimate
    estimate the value of (property) for taxation
    calculate as being
    count, reckon
    take account of
    approximate by ignoring all terms beyond a chosen one
    estimate based on a calculation
    type of:
    calculate, cipher, compute, cypher, figure, reckon, work out
    make a mathematical calculation or computation
  9. verb
    adapt to a specified measurement
    gauge the instruments”
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    type of:
    standardise, standardize
    cause to conform to standard or norm
  10. verb
    rub to a uniform size
    gauge bricks”
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    type of:
    move over something with pressure
  11. verb
    mix in specific proportions
    gauge plaster”
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    type of:
    blend, coalesce, combine, commingle, conflate, flux, fuse, immix, meld, merge, mix
    mix together different elements
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