Definition of caliper in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkaləpər/
(also calliper)


Image of caliper
1 (calipers) An instrument for measuring external or internal dimensions, having two hinged legs resembling a pair of compasses and in-turned or out-turned points.
Example sentences
  • At 2000 h every day, chicks were weighed on the precision balance, and their tarsus length measured by using a pair of calipers.
  • The fossil trackway was measured using calipers; measurements consisted of the total external width, internal width, and the width of both right and left tracks.
  • After measuring with a pair of calipers the total length of a feather to the nearest 0.01 mm, we determined average width of the 10 growth bars centered on the point two-thirds of the feather's length from the proximal end.
1.1 (also caliper rule) An instrument for measuring having one linear component sliding along another, with two parallel jaws and a vernier scale.
Example sentences
  • Vernier calipers, that measure to 0.2 cm, are available from precision engineering stores for $A500 and may be used.
  • Cook recommends taking baseline data with a tape measure instead of fat calipers or scales.
  • Livers were removed and the depth of necrosis was measured using Vernier calipers.
1.2 (also brake caliper) A motor-vehicle or bicycle brake consisting of two or more hinged components.
Example sentences
  • If you are a stickler for quiet brakes, you can also cut out shim washers for spacing the brake caliper brake mounts on the frame or fork.
  • The additional weight is attributed to the brake system, which will consist of an aluminum brake caliper, steel rotor and pad, as well as the limited slip differential in the gearbox.
  • The cause of the accident was a foreign body which got jammed between the brake caliper and the inside of a wheel rim and machined a groove into the rim which caused an immediate failure.
2 (also caliper splint) A metal support for a person’s leg.
Example sentences
  • The witness against the government of Iraq walked stiffly into the room, metal callipers buckled to heavy medical shoes.
  • Specialist equipment such as splints, callipers and braces can help with paralysis and contractures.
  • Neurological complications often reflect skeletal deformity, and the use of callipers, crutches, and wheel-chairs predispose to the development of peripheral nerve entrapment.


Late 16th century: apparently an alteration of caliber.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cal·i·per

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