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1. A standard by which something can be measured or judged: "Inflation ... is a great distorter of seemingly fixed economic ideas and benchmarks" (Benjamin M. Friedman).
2. often bench mark A surveyor's mark made on a stationary object of previously determined position and elevation and used as a reference point, as in geologic surveys or tidal observations.
tr.v. bench·marked, bench·mark·ing, bench·marks
To measure (a rival's product) according to specified standards in order to compare it with and improve one's own product.
[From the use of the surveyor's mark as a place to insert an angle iron that serves as a bench, or level surface, for the support for a leveling rod.]
(Commerce) commerce comparison of practices within different companies, to decide what is most effficient