calcify

verb

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

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
calcification noun

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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 Changing employer hiring norms calcified over decades will prove tricky. Steven Lee, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Paulson brings a lot of humor to Toni, a woman whose frustration and anger at being saddled with all the care work for her dying father has calcified into vicious cruelty toward her siblings. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Dec. 2023 But in a measure of how even Germany’s ability to absorb refugees has limits, some Ukrainians have been living in the small units for a year, their refugee lives calcified into permanence by the lack of affordable housing elsewhere. Graham Bowley, New York Times, 3 Dec. 2023 And all the while, the tenderness amongst our particular clan of volunteers, no longer strangers, was always calcifying into something more poetic, more substantial. Eliza Dumais, Vogue, 13 Nov. 2023 These views have been calcified by government efforts to regulate artificial intelligence, which the Silicon Valley figures see as a transformative technology that would suffer from government meddling. Hannah Knowles, Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2023 The romanticism has calcified; his movies are less ardent, as much sculptures to passion as passionate themselves. Wesley Morris, New York Times, 26 Oct. 2023 Regardless, my younger years of careless living came at a price, and evidence from my first coronary calcium scan (CCS), which is a special computerized tomography scan of the heart that looks for calcium deposits in the heart arteries, showed that my arteries were clogging and calcifying. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 8 Sep. 2023 Their cartilage calcified and their prefrontal cortexes matured. Oliver Munday, The Atlantic, 28 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'calcify.' 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

1836, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of calcify was in 1836

Dictionary Entries Near calcify

Cite this Entry

“Calcify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/calcify. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

calcify

verb
cal·​ci·​fy ˈkal-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce calcify (audio)
calcified; calcifying
: to make or become stony by deposit of calcium salts
calcification noun

Medical Definition

calcify

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

transitive verb

: to make calcareous by deposit of calcium salts

intransitive verb

: to become calcareous

More from Merriam-Webster on calcify

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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