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

An officer kicked the door in and chased him inside the house, where Galindo allegedly dropped a loaded .38 caliber handgun in the kitchen, according to police. Megan Jones, Aurora Beacon-News, "Police: Aurora man wanted on 7 warrants arrested after being found hiding in basement," 11 July 2018 In a game between high-caliber boys’ lacrosse programs, the difference between a win and loss can be quite small. Nate Weitzer,, "Teddy Darcey looms large in net for Wellesley boys’ lacrosse," 27 May 2018 Over the years, the Oilers have not dodged anyone, making regular appearances at high-caliber tournaments like the Michelle Carew Classic. Andrew Turner,, "Daily Pilot High School Female Athlete of the Week: Huntington Beach has big-game pitcher in Grace Uribe," 20 May 2018 Maybe there is a sense of excitement because the Ravens went out and drafted some high-caliber offensive talent in tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews. Mike Preston,, "Mike Preston: Ravens' Flacco takes the right stance in quarterback debate," 7 May 2018 Though there are few companies like Amazon, the details shed light on how far local officials are willing to go to attract a high-caliber private employer and offer a blueprint for future bids. Ryan Lillis, sacbee, "Amazon was offered hundreds of millions by Sacramento area governments in HQ2 bid," 5 Feb. 2018 The stone cairn is decorated with a machine gun belt, a large-caliber bullet and a Russian army helmet. Owen Matthews, Newsweek, "Putin’s Secret Armies Waged War in Syria—Where Will They Fight Next?," 17 Jan. 2018 Very good wines and grocery-store-caliber bottles are often just a few dollars apart. Lettie Teague, WSJ, "Is This Chilean Wine Too Affordable?," 9 Nov. 2018 Some Jack O'Lanterns have a classic, toothy grin; others are much more elaborate, featuring Disney-animator-caliber reproductions of the characters from Frozen and other movies. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "You've Never Seen A Jack O'Lantern Display Like This Before," 12 Oct. 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

15 Dec 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).


a knickknack or trinket

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