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

In 2016, Walker cut the size of the check in half, ignoring a formula in state law for calculating the checks. Becky Bohrer, Anchorage Daily News, "Former Sen. Mark Begich’s entry causes angst in Alaska governor’s race," 4 July 2018 In 2016, Walker cut the size of the check in half, ignoring a formula in state law for calculating the checks. Washington Post, "Ex-US senator’s entry causes angst in Alaska governor’s race," 3 July 2018 There, employees can apply unused sick time to creditable service for the purpose of calculating pension payouts., "Should Massachusetts cap sick time for state workers?," 29 June 2018 For Kentucky Derby ball groups and others who do large fund raising events, their questions involve the basis for calculating the tax. Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky nonprofits scramble to figure out state's new sales tax laws," 21 June 2018 In most states, those merchants are responsible for calculating and paying the various state taxes if they are owed. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Supreme Court Widens Reach of Sales Tax for Online Retailers," 21 June 2018 Last month, a federal judge ruled the department’s method of calculating how much former students should get violated privacy laws. Nanette Asimov,, "Students of defunct Corinthian Colleges to get millions in loan refunds," 14 June 2018 The hourly rate of a nonexempt full-time salaried employee is 1/40 of the employee’s weekly salary for the purpose of calculating the employee’s overtime rate. Dan Eaton,, "Salaried workers entitled to overtime pay unless exempt," 11 June 2018 The President isn't so concerned with calculating the impact of decisions on allies, Miller said. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Key US allies 'perplexed' as Trump treats friends like enemies," 26 May 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

11 Nov 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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