cal·​ci·​fy | \ ˈkal-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce calcify (audio) \
calcified; calcifying

Definition of calcify

transitive verb

1 : to make calcareous by deposit of calcium salts
2 : to make inflexible or unchangeable

intransitive verb

1 : to become calcareous
2 : to become inflexible and changeless : harden

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Other Words from calcify

calcification \ ˌkal-​sə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce calcification (audio) \ noun

What is the difference between ossify and calcify?

Medically speaking, ossify refers to the process by which bone forms, or by which tissue (usually cartilage) changes into bone. Ossification is a natural process that starts in utero and which comprises several different steps—one of which is the deposit of calcium salts, also known as calcification. Calcify, however, only refers to the deposit of calcium salts in soft tissue and is not synonymous with ossify. Ossification creates bone tissue, which is more than simply a deposit of calcium salts.

Both ossify and calcify have gained more general uses as well. Calcify refers to hardening, to becoming inflexible and unable to change:

What were once upstart revisionist currents calcified into self-regarding academic sub-specialties, sponsoring plenty of analysis but little fundamental debate.
— Sean Wilentz, The New Republic, 2 July 2001

Ossify refers to becoming inflexible, conventional, and resistant to change:

For these writers, the ossified ideologies of the world, imbedded in the communal imagination, block vision, and as artists they respond not by criticism from without but by confrontation from within.
—Robert Coover, The New York Times Book Review, 18 Mar. 1984

While ossify generally has a slightly more disparaging connotation to it than calcify does in general uses, our evidence shows that the two words are beginning to merge semantically.

Examples of calcify in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The election of Donald Trump calcified my ambivalence into an ambiguous wariness stemming from an unambiguous truth. Damon Young, Time, "How I Came to View the American Flag as a Threat," 12 Sep. 2019 Perhaps one way of understanding The Topeka School is as a meditation on how the snow of whiteness can calcify and harden, freeze, into an icy weapon. Christine Smallwood, Harper's magazine, "Novel, Essay, Poem," 16 Sep. 2019 The consistency suggests the president's weak standing with the American people is calcified after two years of near-constant political crises and divisive rhetoric at the White House. Steve Peoples, Fortune, "Trump Approval Rating: Still Weak, Despite Economy," 22 Aug. 2019 Submerged in the corner of a retention pond in Wellington, Florida, rested a car that was heavily calcified and clearly had been in the water for a long time. The Washington Post, oregonlive, "For 22 years, his disappearance was a mystery; then, someone spotted something odd in a Google Earth photo," 14 Sep. 2019 The consistency suggests the president’s weak standing with the American people is calcified after two years of near-constant political crises and divisive rhetoric at the White House. Hannah Fingerhut, The Denver Post, "6 in 10 Americans disapprove of how Trump’s handling his job, AP-NORC poll says," 22 Aug. 2019 Lydia, as Dowd plays her, isn’t a lonely woman whose pain is calcifying into maliciousness. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Cruelty of Aunt Lydia," 13 July 2019 Having cracked open advertising’s calcified male dominance, Har’el now has her sights on the larger entertainment industry. Stacy Perman,, "Filmmaker Alma Har'el frees up space for women in the entertainment industry," 17 June 2019 Now, after decades keeping the world at arm's length, the Argentine has gone on the record to have his say on a narrative long-calcified in public memory. Thomas Page, CNN, "Sex, drugs and soccer: Diego Maradona film shines light on Napoli years," 12 June 2019

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

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First Known Use of calcify

1836, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for calcify

Last Updated

30 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for calcify

The first known use of calcify was in 1836

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More Definitions for calcify


cal·​ci·​fy | \ ˈkal-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce calcify (audio) \
calcified; calcifying

Medical Definition of calcify

transitive verb

: to make calcareous by deposit of calcium salts

intransitive verb

: to become calcareous

More from Merriam-Webster on calcify

Britannica English: Translation of calcify for Arabic Speakers

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