cal·​a·​mari ˌkä-lə-ˈmär-ē How to pronounce calamari (audio)
: squid used as food

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The word calamari was borrowed into English from 17th-century Italian, where it functioned as the plural of "calamaro" or "calamaio." The Italian word, in turn, comes from the Medieval Latin noun calamarium, meaning "ink pot or "pen case," and can be ultimately traced back to Latin calamus, meaning "reed pen." The transition from pens and ink to squid is not surprising, given the inky substance that a squid ejects and the long tapered shape of the squid's body. English speakers have also adopted "calamus" itself as a word referring to both a reed pen and to a number of plants.

Examples of calamari in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web However, dishes like salt-and-pepper calamari and laksa — a Malaysian spicy coconut noodle soup — are commonly found in pubs throughout the country. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, 16 Jan. 2024 The seafood and saffron plate ($38) includes salmon, jumbo shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, calamari and vegetables sauteed in a tomato saffron broth. Jenna Thompson, Kansas City Star, 4 Apr. 2024 Folks who crave the menu at the previous Quinn’s need not worry, as the kitchen is making clam chowder from scratch and frying fish and chips, popcorn shrimp, chicken wings and salt-and-pepper calamari. John Metcalfe, The Mercury News, 1 Apr. 2024 Given these conditions, China has struggled in recent years with strikes, mutinies and violence on its squid ships, which feed the world’s growing demand for calamari. Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2023 Highlights include prime steakhouse meatballs, Wagyu beef tartare, Rhode Island calamari and shrimp, heirloom tomato salad, Maine lobster cocktail, Hawaiian poke, NY strip steak, bone-in ribeye and fresh seafood. Jessica Swannie, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 And Lorenzo, who is, uh, the son of the owner, goes out every morning at 4:00 AM to catch calamari. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 22 Feb. 2024 His salt-and-pepper take is inspired by Chinese calamari, and the lemon myrtle salt is a traditional Australian spice. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, 16 Jan. 2024 But there’s an array of noodle soups to choose from, including a generous seafood pho ($14.99) boasting a clear, flavorful broth with calamari, seafood balls and imitation crab and shrimp atop a bed of rice noodles. Linda Zavoral, The Mercury News, 15 Jan. 2024

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

Word History


Italian, plural of calamaro, calamaio, from Medieval Latin calamarium ink pot, from Latin calamus; from the inky substance the squid secretes

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of calamari was in 1826


Dictionary Entries Near calamari

Cite this Entry

“Calamari.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


cal·​a·​mari ˌkä-lə-ˈmär-ē How to pronounce calamari (audio)
: squid used as food

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