cal·​cu·​late | \ ˈkal-kyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce calculate (audio) \
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 team calculated that the smart implant would need 4.6 microwatts of energy to power itself. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Bionic Knee Replacements Are Powered By Your Walk," 30 Jan. 2019 Because access to cities is so important in healthcare, the researchers calculated the travel time to get to every single square kilometer on earth, based on transportation options and terrain. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "Glasgow, Montana Is America's Most Isolated Town," 9 July 2018 Entertainment Tonight calculated the cost of Markle’s outfits from her first one-on-one meeting with the Queen to her wedding gown, which proves that designer duds add up fast. Sarah Midkiff,, "We've Seen $1 Million Of Meghan Markle's Royal Wardrobe," 30 June 2018 The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calculated an 81 percent increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs in 2009-16. Detroit Free Press, "Death on foot," 28 June 2018 The researchers calculated that, on average, a child tested in the 1960s performed at the same level as a modern child who is a full year younger. Ian Haydon,, "Despite what parents might think, kids have gotten better at self-control," 27 June 2018 Chelyabinsk-class events happen every 30 to 40 years, researchers calculate, while impacts by objects with diameters greater than one mile occur once every several hundred thousand years. William Harwood, CBS News, "NASA asteroid-watchers team up on emergency plan with White House, FEMA," 20 June 2018 The registry also calculated that the likelihood of completing two aces in the same round are 67 million to 1. Edward Lee,, "Towson amateur golfer enjoys two holes-in-one in 24-hour span," 13 June 2018 The Brookings Institution calculated that the turnover rate during Trump’s first year in office was 34 percent, nearly four times higher than the rate during Obama’s first year. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Sarah Sanders, Raj Shah Latest Trump Staffers Said to Be Eyeing Exit," 13 June 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

15 Apr 2019

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 How to pronounce calculate (audio) \
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).


likely to have or produce good results

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