Measurement terminology

Hi all. I confess that I am often confused by the terms width,
depth, length and height- and the ways they are used to describe
different objects by different people who may not be speaking the
same language.

My specific problem is describing a cuff, either a bracelet or an
earring. I want to be able to describe a cuff so that someone not
present could have an accurate idea of its size.

OK, now imagine viewing this cuff laid on its side with gap facing
you. The left to right, side to side dimension would seem to be the
“width” in this case. Or should “width” mean the width of the strip
of silver, which could also be described as “height” in this
example? If I handed a cuff to someone and said, “How wide is
this?”, they would probably answer with the width of the strip of

The most troublesome dimension for me is best viewed when the cuff
is standing upright with the gap at the bottom. I want to describe
the distance from the table to the center of the underside of the
cuff, I.e. the “height” in this view, or perhaps “depth” in the
previous view. And then there is “length”, which I interpret as the
length of the strip of silver while lying flat. But is that
universally understood?

Part of my dilemma could be solved with a diagram showing dimensions
A, B, C, etc., and not worry about the terminology. But I’d really
like to be able to explain it without the diagram as well

Does anyone have any specific advice here, or some general
guidelines as to how these terms should be properly used in
different circumstances? Thanks, Orchid!


It might be a lot easier to describe the cuff as a cylinder or tube,
you seem to be describing it as a cube. the measurement across the
cuff would be the diameter and then the other measurement would be
the depth or width, depending on which way you look at it.

This would work for a broken cuff bracelet (it doesn’t have to be a
full circle) as well and for ovals, you just give the longest and
shortest diameter.


cuff so the best way to handle this is to use a tape measure on the
inside of the cuff. Measure from end to end and then the opening. As
an example this would be described as 6 inches measured on the inside
plus a one inch opening to fit a seven inch wrist.

This measurement could also be arrived at by measuring the length
and width of the inside area, adding the two measurements together
then dividing by two and finally multiplying by 3.1416

You should also describe the width of the cuff as say one inch wide
at the top and tapering to one half inch wide at the ends.

Greg DeMark

Hi Allan,

I think part of the problem in describing the dimensions of a round
item as opposed to a flat item may be the choice of terms.

A cuff bracelet or earing is basically round with a small section
missing. If I were describing a cuff, I’d give the dimension as the
diameter at 90 deg to the opening. Then the width would be listed as
the dimension from one edge of the cuff to the other. The thickness
would be the dimension from the inside of the cuff to the outside. If
you want to give a dimension of the inside of the cuff I’d just list
the inside diameter. With an earring, the wire that goes through the
ear pretty much describes it’s portion of the diameter of the cuff.

If on the other hand, you’re describing a rectangular shaped item
then length, width & height or depth are more appropriate.