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 test, which is like a CT scan, measures calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. Betsy Mckay, WSJ, "New Guidelines for Treating High Cholesterol Take a Personal Approach," 10 Nov. 2018 The velvet is scraped off by the deer against trees after the antler has reached its full-grown, calcified state. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Tennessee allows first-ever 'velvet buck' hunt," 20 Aug. 2018 But that avoidance can often calcify into an argument that no one should be telling stories like this, period. Julie Muncy, The Verge, "This queer horror game forces you to literally tear yourself apart," 8 Nov. 2018 Not only that, but the despair and disillusionment many of us have felt since the election can, in certain cases, calcify into a sort of gallows humor. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Everything You Need to Know About the Summer of Scam," 19 June 2018 Sarvas is astute in portraying how relationships can calcify in childhood, and the exquisite pain of attempting to repair them in adulthood. Mark Sarvas, New York Times, "A Father-Son Novel Served With a Twist," 11 May 2018 Her bones are as calcified as those of a child between the ages of 6 and 8. Ben Guarino,, "This tiny skeleton found in Chile might look like an alien’s, but genetics studies are uncovering the tragic, true story," 23 Mar. 2018 Compared to the rosier portrayals of the British elite in The Crown, Patrick Melrose lacerates a class of people whom centuries of self-indulgence have calcified into callousness and toxic absurdity. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Patrick Melrose Is a Lacerating Tour de Force," 10 May 2018 Less than two months before Mexico's July 1 presidential election, front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is clashing with the nation's business elite in an escalating war of words that has calcified battle lines and helped send the peso tumbling. Kate Linthicum,, "Mexico's presidential front-runner is at war with business elites who warn he'll wreck the economy," 9 May 2018

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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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

Comments on calcify

What made you want to look up calcify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that collects or salvages junk

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