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Gage or gauge? AW has the answer

Posted by brentaustin 
Gage or gauge? AW has the answer
February 26, 2018 01:47PM
We were discussing this issue recently as I and others have always spelled river gage as "gauge". But, we had noticed that AW uses the term "gage" on its rivers pages. Here is Mark Singleton's response:

"Here is a little bit of the history on the Guage vs Gage.
Frederick H. Newell (who was said to be a very forward-thinking person) met USGS Director John Wesley Powell in 1888. Powell was sufficiently impressed to make Newell the first full-time appointment to the Irrigation Survey, which Powell created to investigate the potential for dams and canals in the western U.S.. No practical technique for obtaining systematic daily records of discharge existed at that time, so a training camp known as the “Camp of Instruction” was set up on the Rio Grande at Embudo, New Mexico. The Camp of Instruction began the task of developing water measurement methods that are widely used by the USGS today.

During the next ten years, Newell continued to play an important role in the development of streamflow gaging techniques and methods. Around 1892, Newell is purported to be the person responsible for the adoption of the USGS spelling of “gage” instead of “gauge”. Newell reasoned that “gage” was the Saxon spelling before the Norman influence added a 'u' to the spelling. Robert Follansbee (A History of the Water ResourcesBranch, U.S. Geological Survey: Volume I, From Predecessor Surveys to June 30, 1919 -- page 66) speculated that Newell might have also been influenced by the adoption of “gage” in the Standard Dictionary (the first dictionary produced by Funk and Wagnalls. It came out in 1893 or 1894, so there's a bit of conflict in dates).

Newell went on to became the first Chief Hydrographer of the USGS.

At AW we follow the USGS standard for the term ‘gage’ to measure flows."

Brent Austin
Re: Gage or gauge? AW has the answer
February 28, 2018 01:54PM
Thanks for the history! However, it seems that "gage" should be the proper spelling since it rhymes with "cage" and "page"! Evidently somewhere down the line someone added a "u" to the spelling although it is silent and has no real function or use. Seems like the added "u" actually is more of a French influence than English. When people from other countries try to learn English language this is what is so confusing! So, should Gauley be pronounced "gaw-ley" or gay-ley". Just saying! :-)

B. J. Kayak bum and river guide
Re: Gage or gauge? AW has the answer
February 28, 2018 02:18PM
Must have originally been ‘Golly’ after they made their first descent. Then they tried to spell it.


Tattooed and Retired
Re: Gage or gauge? AW has the answer
March 01, 2018 02:05PM
In research of word "gauge" or "gage": "Gauge" is derived from French word "jauge", and was used in at least the 13th century. "Gage" was a subsequent spelling. Webster dictionary shows word origin as "norman/French ".

B. J. - kayak bum and river guide
Re: Gage or gauge? AW has the answer
March 04, 2018 12:56PM
"Gage" also has a long history, but has had several different meanings throughout the centuries. It at least goes back to medevil jousting and then meant a "pledge", and later had to do with "debt". However, either of those meanings is never used anymore and considered obsolete! Sometimes later perhaps in 1700 or 1800's "gage" became an alternate spelling of "gauge". This was used even more so in the early United States, and probably is the reason the usgs adapted that spelling in the 1800's. Either spelling today seems to be acceptable and has the same meaning - "to measure".
B. J. - kayak bum and river guide

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/04/2018 12:58PM by bj196321.
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