Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A standard by which something can be measured or judged: "Inflation . . . is a great distorter of seemingly fixed economic ideas and benchmarks” ( Benjamin M. Friedman). See Synonyms at standard.
  • n. A surveyor's mark made on a stationary object of previously determined position and elevation and used as a reference point in tidal observations and surveys.
  • transitive v. To measure (a rival's product) according to specified standards in order to compare it with and improve one's own product.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A standard by which something is evaluated or measured.
  • n. A surveyor's mark made on some stationary object and shown on a map; used as a reference point.
  • n. A computer program that is executed to assess the performance of the runtime environment.
  • v. To measure the performance of (an item) relative to another similar item in an impartial scientific manner.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Any permanent mark to which other levels may be referred.
  • A horizontal mark at the water's edge with reference to which the height of tides and floods may be measured.
  • a surveyer's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point.
  • something serving as a standard by which related items may be judged.
  • a test or series of tests designed to compare the qualities or performance of different devices of the same type. Certain sets of computer programs are much used as benchmarks for comparing the performance of different computers, especially by comparing the time it takes to complete a test.
  • n. one of a number of marks along a line of survey, affixed to permanent objects, to show where leveling staffs were placed. See bench mark in the vocabulary.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In surveying, a mark cut in stone or some durable material as a starting-point in a line of levels for the determination of altitudes over any region, or one of a number of similar marks made at suitable distances as the survey advances.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a surveyor's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point
  • n. a surveyor's mark on a permanent object of predetermined position and elevation used as a reference point
  • n. a standard by which something can be measured or judged

Etymologies

From the use of the mark as a place to insert an angle iron that serves as a support for a leveling rod.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From bench +‎ mark. Originally (attested circa 1842) a mark cut into a stone by land surveyors to secure a "bench" (from 19th century land surveying jargon, meaning a type of bracket), to mount measuring equipment. Figurative sense attested circa 1884. (Wiktionary)

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