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

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 On the morning of Sept. 13, 2015, then 16-year-old Nolen Buchanan used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot his father, Adam Buchanan 38; his fiancee, Molly McAfee, 37; and their 8-year-old son, Gavin at their vacation cabin along Highway 193 in Greenwood. Molly Sullivan, sacbee, "Benicia man convicted of 2015 murder of father, stepmother, 8-year-old brother," 14 June 2018 Bridges isn’t perfect—creating his own shot off the dribble is a weakness, and some around the league feel the actual caliber of his man-to-man defense may be oversold. Jeremy Woo,, "2018 NBA Mock Draft 9.0: Trade Speculation Heats Up," 10 June 2018 However, export sales of semiautomatic guns and rifles, including large-caliber sniper rifles, would now be handled by Commerce — even though such weapons have military uses and can readily be converted to automatic. Susan Waltz, Washington Post, "The Trump administration wants to make it easier to sell U.S. guns abroad. Here’s what you need to know.," 4 June 2018 Surveillance video showed five males with masks and hoods use bolt cutters, a hammer and .22 caliber rifle to burglarize the store. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Madison teens charged with stealing 20-30 firearms from Oconomowoc gun store," 9 May 2018 Carman allegedly owned the same caliber rifle used in his grandfather's murder, and is a suspect in the cold-case investigation. Don Dahler, CBS News, "Nathan Carman, man accused of killing grandfather, invokes Fifth Amendment in inheritance case," 3 Apr. 2018 The caliber of basketball would still be terrific... John Canzano,, "Oregon Ducks star says NCAA Tournament seeding doesn't matter," 12 Mar. 2018 The caliber of fiction here is genuinely remarkable. Amal El-mohtar, New York Times, "The Latest in Science Fiction and Fantasy," 21 Feb. 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

6 Oct 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

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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