from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small, movable auxiliary graduated scale attached parallel to a main graduated scale, calibrated to indicate fractional parts of the subdivisions of the larger scale, and used on certain precision instruments to increase accuracy in measurement.
  • noun An auxiliary device designed to facilitate fine adjustments or measurements on precision instruments.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or having a vernier.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A small movable scale, running parallel with the fixed scale of a sextant. theodolite, barometer, or other graduated instrument, and used for measuring a fractional part of one of the equal divisions on the graduated fixed scale or arc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A short scale made to slide along the divisions of a graduated instrument, as the limb of a sextant, or the scale of a barometer, for indicating parts of divisions. It is so graduated that a certain convenient number of its divisions are just equal to a certain number, either one less or one more, of the divisions of the instrument, so that parts of a division are determined by observing what line on the vernier coincides with a line on the instrument.
  • noun a gauge with a graduated bar and a sliding jaw bearing a vernier, used for accurate measurements.
  • noun a surveyor's compass with a vernier for the accurate adjustment of the zero point in accordance with magnetic variation.
  • noun a surveyor's transit instrument with a vernier compass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A secondary scale with finer graduations than the primary scale of a measuring device; the vernier measures between graduations of the larger scale.
  • noun A secondary control input with finer control than the primary, or coarse, input; for example the vernier frequency tuning knob on a radio.
  • noun physics A secondary system of force application for the attitude control of a spacecraft; for example a vernier thruster.

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

  • noun a small movable scale that slides along a main scale; the small scale is calibrated to indicate fractional divisions of the main scale
  • noun French mathematician who described the vernier scale (1580-1637)


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

[After Pierre Vernier, (1580?–1637), French mathematician.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowing from French vernier. From Pierre Vernier, the inventor.


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  • They talked about it a lot because it was her profession, but it is the thin vernier above a much deeper reality.

    Is Firefly Good Sci-Fi? 2007

  • The name vernier, now commonly applied to a small movable scale attached to a sextant, barometer, or other graduated instrument, was given by Lalande who showed that the previous name nonius, after Peter Nunez, belonged more properly to a different contrivance.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 15: Tournely-Zwirner 1840-1916 1913

  • It will be seen that the scale proper is attached to the quartz wedge, which is moved by the milled head, and attached to the other quartz wedge is a small scale called a vernier which is fixed, and which serves for the exact determination of the movable scale with reference to it.

    Scientific American Supplement No. 822, October 3, 1891 Various

  • We are focusing right now on a thermostat, a single thermostat in the left, rear section of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which controls an important so-called vernier jet.

    CNN Transcript Jul 1, 2006 2006

  • I made some remark about the "vernier" of one of the circles on the telescope.

    The Reminiscences of an Astronomer Simon Newcomb 1872

  • It helps if you have some vernier calipers and a permanent marker.

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  • A glittering biocomputer smaller than your fist, studded with tiny vernier thrusters, suspended on a web of particle collectors stretching ten meters across, drifting through the void around a fading star.

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  • So how about building this from either a shuttle orbital maneuvering engine or if this is too powerful, a cluster of shuttle RCS thrusters, either the primary or vernier as required.

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  • With their passing went also the last sensation of weight, except for occasional ghostly pats and nudges as the low-powered vernier jets made infinitesimal adjustments to the orbit.

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  • Shiloh Sharps 45-70 with Montana Vintage Arms vernier tang sights and my Bingham Flintlock long rifle.

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