cal·​i·​ber | \ˈka-lə-bər, British also kə-ˈlē-\
variants: or calibre

Definition of caliber 

1a : degree of mental capacity or moral quality teachers of high caliber

b : degree of excellence or importance the caliber of instruction

2a : the diameter of a bullet or other projectile

b : the diameter of a bore of a gun usually expressed in hundredths or thousandths of an inch and typically written as a decimal fraction .32 caliber

3 : the diameter of a round or cylindrical body especially : the internal diameter of a hollow cylinder

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Synonyms for caliber


class, grade, quality, rate

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Examples of caliber in a Sentence

I was impressed by the high caliber of the team's work. musicians of the highest caliber perform at that concert hall

Recent Examples on the Web

Privacy - Terms Once officers arrived, the suspect, identified by Tallahassee police as Jason White, was found with the .40 caliber gun and other goods from Academy Sports. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "A man stole a gun from a store, cops say. But what a manager did next got him fired.," 12 July 2018 The round was a 5.56 caliber bullet — the same type of ammunition found near Inman’s body. Michael Williams,, "Code words, YouTube videos and shell casings lead Sanford police to homicide suspect," 7 July 2018 It can be configured with a robotic arm or a .50 caliber machine gun and can carry payloads of up to 1,650 pounds. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Tank-Killer Robot Could Revolutionize Ground Warfare," 14 June 2018 More than 20 grams of marijuana and three .38 caliber bullets were found in Saintfort’s pockets. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Fugitive burglar tossed gun on school roof, sparking a lockdown that got him locked up, cops say," 13 June 2018 UConn has intruded on the national scene despite a high school-caliber home field. Dom Amore,, "For UConn, Jim Penders, The Dream Of Reaching Omaha Has Been Elusive, But Remains In Sight," 5 June 2018 Looking at past trades for those caliber players, the cost is usually a combination of high draft picks or young, controllable pieces. Chris Fedor,, "NBA Draft lottery 2018: Cleveland Cavaliers' eighth pick still valuable, but hurts off-season plans," 15 May 2018 Both pictures bring to mind salient images of smoking and eating, swapping cheap dealer weed and junk food for fresh dishes using high-caliber cannabis. Steve Heisler, Chicago Reader, "Cooking / Food & Drink / The Reefer / Weed Week Chicago-based Kitchen Toke, the first zine devoted to cooking with weed, preaches the green word," 20 Apr. 2018 The cost of living versus the caliber of cultural activities is off the scales. Christina Pérez, Vogue, "Why Milwaukee, Wisconsin Is the Midwest’s Coolest (and Most Underrated) City," 10 July 2018

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

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 2b

History and Etymology for caliber

borrowed from Middle French calibre "internal diameter of a cylindrical object, displacement of a gun," borrowed (by uncertain mediation) from Arabic qālab, qālib "mold for casting metal, shoemaker's last," borrowed from Greek kalapod-, kalápous, kalópous "shoemaker's last," from kâla (plural) "wood, timber" (of uncertain origin) + -a- (perhaps after tetrápous "four-footed") or -o- -o- + poús "foot" — more at foot entry 1

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Statistics for caliber

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for caliber

The first known use of caliber was in 1588

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More Definitions for caliber



English Language Learners Definition of caliber

: level of excellence, skill, etc.

: a measurement of the width of a bullet or a gun barrel


variants: or calibre \ ˈka-​lə-​bər \

Kids Definition of caliber

1 : level of excellence, skill, or importance She is a writer of the highest caliber.

2 : the diameter of a bullet or of the hole in the barrel of a gun


variants: or chiefly British calibre \ ˈkal-​ə-​bər, British also kə-​ˈlē-​ \

Medical Definition of caliber 

: the diameter of a round or cylindrical body especially : the internal diameter of a hollow cylinder

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Comments on caliber

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something that serves to warn or remind

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