American Wire Gauge

What Does American Wire Gauge Mean?

American wire gauge (AWG) is a standard for the width of electrical wire used predominately in North America. The standard specifies the width of the the diameter of the wire, ranging from 0000 to 40. The diameter decreases as the wire gauges get larger.


American Wire Gauge is also known as Brown & Sharpe wire gauge.

Techopedia Explains American Wire Gauge

American wire gauge is a common standard for the diameter of electrical wire. As the name suggests, the standard is most widely used in North America as a non-metric gauge.

The standard defines the width of the wire diameter using a series of numbers. 0000 is the smallest gauge at 0.46 inches (11.684 mm) and the largest is 40 at .00314 inches (0.0799 mm). The larger the number, the smaller the diameter of the wire. The smallest sizes are 0000, 000, 00 and 0.

The wire size is typical written as n AWG, for example 1 AWG. It is also read “1 gauge.” The gauges with zeroes are read as “aught,” in keeping with the British usage. For example 000 is read as “three aught” and 0 is simply “aught.”


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…