1. Usually calipers. an instrument for measuring thicknesses and internal or external diameters inaccessible to a scale, consisting usually of a pair of adjustable pivoted legs.
  2. any of various calibrated instruments for measuring thicknesses or distances between surfaces, usually having a screwed or sliding adjustable piece.Compare vernier caliper.
  3. thickness or depth, as of paper or a tree.
  4. Usually calipers. the pincers of an earwig.
  5. Automotive. the part of a disc-brake assembly that straddles the disc and presses the brake pads against it.
  6. a similar part used with a hand brake on a bicycle.

verb (used with object)

  1. to measure with calipers.

verb (used without object)

  1. to use calipers.


  1. the usual US spelling of calliper

1620s, short for calliper compass (1580s), a device used to measure caliber (q.v.). Related: Calipers.


  1. An instrument consisting essentially of two curved hinged legs, used to measure thickness and distances.

  1. An instrument consisting of two curved legs connected at a hinge, used to measure thickness and distance. Often used in the plural as calipers.
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