How Did the Term “Benchmark” For a Reference Point Originate and What Does the Word Mean?

A benchmark is a surveyor’s term and, beginning in the nineteenth century, meant a mark cut into a stone or a wall that established the exact level of altitude for a tract of land they were measuring.

Today a benchmark is a high standard to strive for, but the surveyors took their meaning from the word bench as it relates to a long tract of level elevated land along a shoreline or a sloping hill.

Benchmark can also refer to the result of running a computer application in order to evaluate the relative performance of a component by running a number of standard tests and trials against it.

A “benchmark” is often used as a reference point for quality and precision.