also metre, "poetic measure," Old English meter "meter, versification," from Latin metrum, from Greek metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion," from PIE root *me- "measure" (see meter (n.2)). Possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use) from Old French metre, with specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from Latin metrum.
also metre, unit of length, 1797, from French mètre (18c.), from Greek metron "measure," from PIE root *me- "to measure" (cf. Greek metra "lot, portion," Sanskrit mati "measures," matra "measure," Avestan, Old Persian ma-, Latin metri "to measure"). Developed by French Academy of Sciences for system of weights and measures based on a decimal system originated 1670 by French clergyman Gabriel Mouton. Originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the length of a quadrant of the meridian.
"device for measuring," abstracted 1832 from gas-meter, etc., from French -mètre, used in combinations (in English from 1790), from Latin metrum "measure" or cognate Greek metron "measure" (see meter (n.2)). Influenced by English meter "person who measures" (late 14c., agent noun from mete (v.)). As short for parking meter from 1960. Meter maid first recorded 1957; meter reader 1963.
"to measure by means of a meter," 1884, from meter (n.3). Meaning "install parking meters" is from 1957.
meter me·ter (mē'tər)
The standard unit of length in the International System of Units that is equivalent to 39.37 inches.
The basic unit of length in the metric system, equal to 39.37 inches. See Table at measurement.
(US "meter") The fundamental SI unit of length.
From 1889 to 1960, the metre was defined to be the distance between two scratches in a platinum-iridium bar kept in the vault beside the Standard Kilogram at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris.
This replaced an earlier definition as 10^-7 times the distance between the North Pole and the Equator along a meridian through Paris; unfortunately, this had been based on an inexact value of the circumference of the Earth.
From 1960 to 1984 it was defined to be 1650763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red line of krypton-86 propagating in a vacuum.
It is now defined as the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum in the time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.