early 14c., mesuren, "to exercise moderation;" mid-14c., "to deal out or divide up by measure," also "to ascertain spatial dimensions, quantity, or capacity of by comparison with a standard;" from Old French mesurer "measure; moderate, curb" (12c.), from Late Latin mensurare "to measure," from Latin mensura "a measuring, a measurement; thing to measure by," from mensus, past participle of metiri "to measure," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure." The native verb is mete. Intransitive sense of "to be of a (specified) measure" is from 1670s. To measure up "have the necessary abilities" is 1910, American English. Related: Measured; measuring.
c. 1200, "moderation, temperance, abstemiousness;" c. 1300, "instrument for measuring," from Old French mesure "limit, boundary; quantity, dimension; occasion, time" (12c.), from Latin mensura "a measuring, a measurement; thing to measure by," from mensus, past participle of metiri "to measure," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure." The native word was Old English cognate mæð "measure."
Meaning "size or quantity as ascertained by measuring" is from early 14c. Meanings "action of measuring; standard measure of quantity; system of measuring; appointed or allotted amount of anything" are from late 14c. Also from late 14c. are the senses "proper proportion; balance." Sense of "that to which something is compared to determine its quantity" is from 1570s.
In music, from late 14c. as "air, tune;" 1570s as "rhythmic pattern." Specifically as "a group of tones indicated between two primary beats" is from 1660s. From mid-15c. as "rhythmic pattern in poetry;" c. 1500 in dance. Meaning "treatment 'meted out' to someone" is from 1590s; that of "plan or course of action intended to obtain some goal" is from 1690s; sense of "legislative enactment" is from 1759. Figurative phrase for good measure is from good measure as "ample in quantity in goods sold by measure" (late 14c.).
updated on December 11, 2018