verb cal·cu·late \ ˈkal-kyə-ˌlāt \
|Updated on: 19 Aug 2018

Definition of calculate

calculated; calculating
1 a : 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
3 a : to judge to be true or probable
b : intend
  • I calculate to do it or perish in the attempt
  • —Mark Twain
1 a : to make a calculation
b : to forecast consequences
2 : count, rely

Examples of calculate in a Sentence

  1. calculate the volume of a cylinder

  2. I need to calculate how long it will take me to drive to Chicago.

  3. We calculated the cost of new carpeting for the whole house.

  4. We need to calculate our chances of success before we invest more money in the business.

Recent Examples of calculate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of calculate

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

CALCULATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of calculate for English Language Learners

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

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

CALCULATE Defined for Kids


verb cal·cu·late \ ˈkal-kyə-ˌlāt \

Definition of calculate for Students

calculated; calculating
1 : to find by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing : compute
  • calculate an average
2 : 1estimate
  • She calculated the risk.
3 : to plan by careful thought : intend
  • Her remark was calculated to shock her listeners.

History for calculate

In Latin the word calculus meant “pebble.” Because the Romans used pebbles to do addition and subtraction on a counting board, the word became associated with computation, and the phrase ponere calculos, literally, “to place pebbles,” was used to mean “to carry out a computation.” Latin words coming from calculus include calculator, “person able to do arithmetic,” and calculare, “to reckon,” from which we get the word calculate.

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