back-of-the-envelope

adjective

: done quickly to provide a rough estimate : not exact
did a back-of-the-envelope calculation
His method is, in effect, a back-of-the-envelope time-and-motion study.Ian Stewart

Examples of back-of-the-envelope in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Clark did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and estimated that a 10^25 FLOPS model costs about $7 million to train on the latest GPU hardware, while a 10^26 FLOPS model costs about $70 million to train. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 My back-of-the-envelope judgments are: Probably not, and probably not. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 22 Mar. 2024 If the beak-size changes the Grants observed continued over millennia, back-of-the-envelope calculations predicted some extreme phenomena, Pennell said. Quanta Magazine, 2 Jan. 2024 While the company didn’t reveal revenues from its operating divisions, a back-of-the-envelope calculation would put Bed Bath & Beyond at around $4 billion in revenues and Buybuy Baby just under $800 million, based on the number of each brand’s stores. Pamela N. Danziger, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 But in January, a back-of-the-envelope calculation started a discussion. WIRED, 28 Sep. 2023 My patterns can help us with some back-of-the-envelope math. Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post, 26 Sep. 2023 In the Dallas school district, homestead owners can factor in both the higher exemptions and lower rates with some back-of-the-envelope calculations. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, 13 July 2023 GitHub goes on to offer some back-of-the-envelope speculation, estimating that AI coding could boost global GDP by $1.5 trillion by 2030. WIRED, 29 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'back-of-the-envelope.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1968, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of back-of-the-envelope was in 1968

Dictionary Entries Near back-of-the-envelope

Cite this Entry

“Back-of-the-envelope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/back-of-the-envelope. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!