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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The menu features a selection of steaks, chops, chicken and fish, as well as appetizers such as fried calamari, Greek meatballs, oysters Rockefeller and French onion soup. Bob Carlton |, al, 21 July 2022 Chef Michael White gets his inspiration from coastal Italy — don't miss the branzino, Adriatic seafood soup, or the stuffed calamari. Meena Thiruvengadam, Travel + Leisure, 1 Mar. 2021 The actual vessel has been scattered in a placeless, pixilated matrix of screens across the country — remote Jill Biden from Delaware, virtual calamari from Rhode Island. Mark Leibovich, Star Tribune, 20 Aug. 2020 On top is a heap of fried calamari and on the very top, a stack of fried yuyo, a seaweed Adrianzen sources from Peru. Jenn Harriscolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2023 Recipes vary from region to region, but common ingredients can include salted cod, calamari, shellfish and shrimp, which may be stewed, fried, sauteed or even served raw. San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Dec. 2022 The menu features baskets of fried calamari and crab n' fries, which are Cajun-spiced fries with chunks of crab meat. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 24 Jan. 2022 Rhody oysters on the half-shell to start, or New England clam chowder, wasabi and ginger calamari, or Caesar salad. Lauren Daley,, 6 Jan. 2023 Many customers dress to the nines to eat pricey food like $29 Caesar salad, $30 calamari, $34 spicy rigatoni vodka and $120 veal marsala. Dallas News, 21 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calamari.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 23 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on calamari

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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