cal·​i·​ber | \ ˈka-lə-bər How to pronounce caliber (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for caliber


class, grade, quality, rate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

The Dolphins released Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in March but didn’t sign a starting-caliber defensive tackle during free agency and didn’t draft a defensive tackle. Chris Perkins,, "Dolphins acquire DT Akeem Spence via trade with Detroit," 3 May 2018 The Islamic State has no air defenses to speak of, save for small-caliber air defense guns and man-portable surface-to-air missiles with short ranges. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "F-35s Could Attack Islamic State This Fall," 18 July 2016 The ships are armed with a 76-millimeter Oto Melara SuperRapid dual purpose gun, eight Naval Strike Missiles, 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow air defense missiles, four .50 caliber machine guns, four anti-submarine torpedoes, and a NH-90 helicopter. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Norwegian Frigate Intentionally Run Aground After Collision," 8 Nov. 2018 Police said multiple shell casings from two different caliber guns were found at the scene. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "Sacramento Kings forward Zach Randolph's brother killed in shooting in Indiana," 16 June 2018 Deputies then checked the bag and found an unloaded .22 caliber gun. Greg Moran,, "Juvenile brings unloaded gun to school, is arrested," 11 June 2018 According to the release, a magazine to a handgun was seen inside the vehicle, then a loaded Smith and Wesson .40 caliber gun was located. Staff Report,, "Felon on parole for gun possession conviction charged in Evanston for having loaded weapon in vehicle," 5 June 2018 It was replaced with a solid nose and armed with up to eight .50 caliber machine guns. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "B-25 Bomber to arrive for Warbird Weekend at West Houston Airport," 10 Apr. 2018 To now align itself with a brand of Rodarte's caliber is a major achievement in expanding sizing in the luxury space. Glamour, "The Brand Known for Wowing on the Red Carpet is Releasing a Collection in Sizes 00 Through 40 and Under $250," 9 Apr. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about caliber

Statistics for caliber

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for caliber

The first known use of caliber was in 1588

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on caliber

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


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!