cal·cu·late | \ ˈkal-kyə-ˌlāt \
calculated; calculating

Definition of calculate 

transitive verb

1a : to determine by mathematical processes calculate the rate of acceleration

b : to reckon by exercise of practical judgment : estimate calculate the likelihood of success

c : to solve or probe the meaning of : figure out trying to calculate his expression —Hugh MacLennan

2 : to design or adapt for a purpose he carefully calculated the timing of his arrival for maximum impact

3a : to judge to be true or probable

b : intend I calculate to do it or perish in the attempt —Mark Twain

intransitive verb

1a : to make a calculation

b : to forecast consequences

2 : count, rely

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Synonyms for calculate


cipher, compute, figure, reckon, work out

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Examples of calculate in a Sentence

calculate the volume of a cylinder I need to calculate how long it will take me to drive to Chicago. We calculated the cost of new carpeting for the whole house. We need to calculate our chances of success before we invest more money in the business.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The mayor’s spokesman, Craig Gustafson, said city officials have not calculated any updated estimates of the city’s potential liability if the pension cuts are overturned. David Garrick,, "If state Supreme Court rules against San Diego on pensions, it could could cost city millions," 14 July 2018 The Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks displayed the campaign's private communications, including deliberations about messaging that played into attacks that Clinton was calculating and a political flip-flopper. CBS News, "Trump responds to Russian hacking indictment by blaming Obama administration," 14 July 2018 Analysts at Moody’s Investors Service in 2013 stopped using the pension liability estimates government actuaries had signed off on and began calculating the debts themselves. Heather Gillers, WSJ, "Jeremy Gold Shook Up Pension World With Warnings About Risks," 13 July 2018 His book is full of humorous anecdotes and observations calculated to keep operatic neophytes interested. Monitor Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "10 best books of July: the Monitor's picks," 12 July 2018 Flyvbjerg theorized that some important elements of risk were not being calculated into the original planning of many projects around the world. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Here's why Detroit development takes so long," 11 July 2018 While having someone calculate the chances of the Royals' reaching 120 losses may seem sad for Royals fans, there is actually good news in this article. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Royals have slight chance to reach modern-day record for losses, says FanGraphs writer," 10 July 2018 But the fickle nature and uncertain authorship of boom times explain why historians generally don’t focus much on the economy when calculating their presidential rankings. Neil Swidey,, "How Democrats would be better off if Bill Clinton had never been president," 10 July 2018 The number of families arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol dropped 4.6% from May to June, if calculating based on the average of those historically apprehended during these months. Sarah Kinosian, Teen Vogue, "Reunification Proves Complicated for Families Separated at the U.S.-Mexico Border," 14 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calculate.' 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 calculate

1542, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for calculate

Latin calculatus, past participle of calculare, from calculus pebble (used in reckoning), perhaps irregular diminutive of calc-, calx lime — more at chalk

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Statistics for calculate

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for calculate

The first known use of calculate was in 1542

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More Definitions for calculate



English Language Learners Definition of calculate

: to find (a number, answer, etc.) by using mathematical processes

: to get a general idea about the value, size, or cost of (something)


cal·cu·late | \ ˈkal-kyə-ˌlāt \
calculated; calculating

Kids Definition of calculate

1 : to find by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing : compute calculate an average

2 : estimate entry 1 She calculated the risk.

3 : to plan by careful thought : intend Her remark was calculated to shock her listeners.

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Comments on calculate

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


occurring twice a year or every two years

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