Quick Summary

The Greek root metr and its variant meter mean “measure.” These roots are the word origin of a fair number of mostly scientific and mathematical English vocabulary words, including geometry, symmetry, millimeter and centimeter. The roots metr and meter are easily recalled through the words metric, or a widely used system of “measurement,” and meter, the key unit of “measure” in the metric system.

Measure Your Word Meter with "Metr"

The Greek root metr and its variant meter mean “measure.” This podcast will help you “measure” up when it comes to knowing words with metr and meter in them!

There are so many things to measure, and so there are numerous systems of measurement. Humans have developed the metric system to “measure” length, volume, height, distance, speed … you name it! The mathematical system of geometry was originally made to “measure” the Earth. Trigonometry is also a mathematical system that determines the “measure” of different parts of a triangle. If an object possesses symmetry its corresponding opposite parts are of equal “measure,” that is, they are equidistant from each other. And a metronome “measures” the speed with which an instrument is being played.

Now let’s see how the variant spelling meter shows up in English vocabulary. It’s pretty obvious that one uses a meter stick to “measure” things; the meter is also a core or base unit of “measurement” in the metric system (along with the kilogram). The centimeter in turn “measures” 1/100 of a meter, whereas the millimeter “measures” 1/1000 of a meter. When it comes to geometry, the diameter of a circle is the “measurement” across the circle, whereas the perimeter of a polygon is the collective “measure” of its sides.

There are many different instruments that humans use as well to “measure” things. For instance, the thermometer “measures” temperature, an odometer “measures” how many miles or kilometers (or 1000 meters) a car has traveled, a speedometer “measures” how fast a vehicle is moving, whereas a pedometer is used to “measure” how far a person has gone on foot. And the distance that a person has hiked could be related to how nice the weather has been, suggested by the barometer, or “measurer” of air pressure, which is often a good indicator of how nice the weather is going to be … or not be!

Be careful! The Greek root metr can also mean “mother.” Luckily, the word metropolis or “mother” city is the only common word derived from this, its adjectival variant being metropolitan, that is, of a “mother” city.

So as not to make all the words that derive from the Greek roots metr and meter seem im"measure"able, this podcast shall now end. I think that you’ve had your fair “measure” of them anyway!

  1. metric: of a system of “measurement”
  2. geometry: originally a mathematical system created to “measure” the Earth
  3. trigonometry: a system of “measuring” the lengths of the sides of triangles using their angles
  4. symmetry: a similar “measurement” of two cut halves of an object
  5. metronome: a device that “measures” the speed of a musician’s playing of an instrument
  6. meter: the base unit of “measurement” in the metric system
  7. centimeter: a unit of “measurement” equivalent to 1/100 of a meter
  8. millimeter: a unit of “measurement” equivalent to 1/1000 of a meter
  9. diameter: the “measurement” across a circle
  10. perimeter: the “measurement” around a polygon, such as a quadrilateral or pentagon
  11. thermometer: an instrument that “measures” atmospheric heat
  12. odometer: an instrument that “measures” how far a vehicle has traveled
  13. kilometer: a “measurement” equivalent to 1000 meters
  14. speedometer: an instrument that “measures” the speed of a vehicle
  15. pedometer: an instrument that “measures” how far a person has walked
  16. barometer: an instrument that “measures” atmospheric pressure


  • symmetry

    Objects that possess symmetry have equally balanced halves or evenness of shape after being divided in half.

  • metric

    based on the meter as a standard of measurement

  • metronome

    clicking pendulum indicates the exact tempo of a piece of music

  • asymmetrical

    characterized by asymmetry in the spatial arrangement or placement of parts or components

  • asymmetry

    (mathematics) a lack of symmetry

  • barometer

    an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure

  • centimeter

    a metric unit of length equal to one hundredth of a meter

  • diametric

    related to or along a diameter

  • diameter

    the length of a straight line passing through the center of a circle and connecting two points on the circumference

  • geometry

    the pure mathematics of points and lines and curves and surfaces

  • meter

    measure with a meter

  • millimeter

    a metric unit of length equal to one thousandth of a meter

  • odometer

    a meter that shows mileage traversed

  • parameter

    a constant in the equation of a curve that can be varied to yield a family of similar curves

  • pedometer

    measuring instrument for recording the number of steps taken in walking

  • perimeter

    the boundary line or the area immediately inside the boundary

  • symmetrical

    having similarity in size, shape, and relative position of corresponding parts

  • thermometer

    measuring instrument for measuring temperature

Differentiated vocabulary for your students is just a click away.