Definition of Nilometer in US English:



  • A graduated pillar or other vertical surface, serving to indicate the height reached by the Nile during its annual floods.

    • ‘When the water level in the Nilometer was below 6 meters, a famine occurred consequential to failed crop yield.’
    • ‘Basic calibration still found on the Nilometer's walls were used as an efficient measurement tool.’
    • ‘The elevations at the Nilometers throughout Egypt were all tied to a single common datum.’
    • ‘The first Nilometers and mention of their level records go back to the third millennium B.C. and even earlier.’
    • ‘The readings of the Nilometers were relayed downstream to tell the height and progress of the flood, so that preparations could be made to arrange the irrigation most efficiently.’


Early 18th century: via French nilomètre from Greek Neilometrion, from Neilos ‘Nile’ + metron ‘measure’.