A schematic diagram of an average diagnostic dipstick

A dipstick is one of several measurement devices.

Some dipsticks are dipped into a liquid to perform a chemical test or to provide a measure of quantity of the liquid.

In the late 20th century, a flatness/levelness measuring device trademarked "Dipstick" was used to help establish profile measurement standards in the concrete floor and paving industries.


Testing dipstick

A testing dipstick is usually made of paper or cardboard and is impregnated with reagents that indicate some feature of the liquid by changing color. In medicine, dipsticks can be used to test for a variety of liquids for the presence of a given substance, known as an analyte.[1] For example, urine dipsticks are used to test urine samples for haemoglobin, nitrite (produced by bacteria in a urinary tract infection), protein, glucose and occasionally urobilinogen or ketones.

They are usually brightly-coloured, and extremely rough to touch.

Measuring dipstick

Using a dipstick to measure the amount of fuel remaining in a tank

Dipsticks can also be used to measure the quantity of liquid in an otherwise inaccessible space, by inserting and removing the stick and then checking the extent of it covered by the liquid. The most familiar example is the oil level dipstick found on most internal combustion engines.

Other kinds of dipsticks are used to measure everything from fuel levels to the amount of beer left in an ale cask (Firkin).

Floor & pavement profiler

"Dipstick" is the trade name of a profiling device manufactured by Face Construction Technologies of Norfolk, Virginia USA.[2] The instrument is used in 60 countries on six continents to measure the flatness and levelness of concrete floor slabs and pavements.[2][3]

The Dipstick measures concrete floor slab flatness/levelness in terms of Face Floor Profile Numbers ("F-Numbers"), a profile measurement system adopted in 1990 by the American Concrete Institute.[4] F-Number measurement procedures were established by ASTM Standard E1155.[5]

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)[6] and the World Bank (with its International Roughness Index... or "IRI")[7] have established measurement procedures using Dipstick profiler data.

The Dipstick was used to obtain data that were used as ground truth in FHWA evaluations of the repeatability of IRI values as measured by other profilers and in Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTTP) studies conducted by several states.[8]

The instrument was similarly used to produce reference measurements[9] by the World Road Association (PIARC) in its 1998 "International Experiment to Harmonise Longitudinal and Transverse Profile Measurement and Reporting Procedures." The PIARC experiment was conducted in the USA, Japan, Holland and Germany and included IRI values from airport runways[10] and super highways to rough unpaved roads.[9]


The word "dipstick" is also used in parts of North America, New Zealand and the United Kingdom as a term of insult, referring to someone who lacks common sense.[citation needed]

See also


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • dipstick — n. a graduated rod dipped into a container to indicate the fluid level; as, to check the oil level in a car with a dipstick. [WordNet 1.5] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dipstick — ► NOUN 1) a graduated rod for measuring the depth of a liquid, especially oil in an engine. 2) informal a stupid or inept person …   English terms dictionary

  • dipstick — [dip′stik΄] n. a graduated metal rod for measuring the depth of a substance in its container, as of oil in a crankcase …   English World dictionary

  • dipstick — (DIP.stik) v. To take the measure of a person or a situation. Also: dip stick. Example Citation: In public, Secretary Powell, the four star general turned diplomat, has done what he always does: soldier on, shaping his commander s policies as… …   New words

  • dipstick — The metal rod that passes into the oil sump it is used to determine the quantity of oil in the engine. The oil level is marked on the rod and matches level indicators on the rod. Dipsticks are used to check engine oil and transmission fluid. In… …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • dipstick — noun a) A stick or rod used to measure the depth of a liquid. Often used to check the level at which a liquid in an invisible tank stands; gauge. I havent checked the oil level of my cars motor since I lost the dipstick three months ago. b) …   Wiktionary

  • dipstick — UK [ˈdɪpˌstɪk] / US noun [countable] Word forms dipstick : singular dipstick plural dipsticks 1) a long stick used for measuring the oil in a car s engine 2) offensive a stupid or annoying person …   English dictionary

  • dipstick —    ‘Dip’ has long meant a pickpocket in criminal slang, but from the 1920s, in American slang, it took on the new meanings of stupid or eccentric person, the equivalent of ‘jerk’ or ‘nut’. To emphasize the contempt of the speaker for the person… …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

  • dipstick — n A stupid or foolish person. The dipstick has her dress on backwards. 1960s …   Historical dictionary of American slang

  • dipstick — Idiot, moron, stupid person. He knew the ice on the lake was only an inch thick. But the dipstick walked on it and fell through, anyway! …   Dictionary of american slang

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