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

Carlsen hasn’t, in earnest, had a challenger of this caliber during his reign. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Magnus Carlsen vs. the American in a Chess Championship for the Ages," 9 Nov. 2018 There have been other movie musicals with stars like Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand, and Gaga’s of that caliber. Lukas Nelson, Town & Country, "How a Chance Meeting With A Star Is Born's Bradley Cooper Lead Lukas Nelson to Collaborate With Lady Gaga," 4 Oct. 2018 Life would be good if all municipal courses were of this caliber. Scott Hanson, The Seattle Times, "Teeing Off | West Seattle G.C. is a municipal course the city can be proud to own," 13 Aug. 2018 No matter how many of them choose the Tigers, the fact Hardaway has Memphis in the mix for prospects of this caliber augurs well for his chances of reviving a program languishing in the middle tier of the American Athletic Conference. Chris Johnson,, "Winners and Losers of College Basketball's 2018 Recruiting Cycle," 2 May 2018 Facebook would likely be able to hire a higher caliber of workers for these jobs. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Ex-Facebook moderator sues Facebook over exposure to disturbing images," 26 Sep. 2018 Two things have defined the past 10 months for Stewart: An MVP-caliber season that has lifted her team to the top of the WNBA standings, and a poignant revelation that has lifted a boulder off her chest. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "Storm’s Breanna Stewart is the surefire WNBA MVP, and not just for her on-court dominance," 5 Aug. 2018 Over the last three seasons, injuries had reduced him to a shadow of his MVP-caliber self at the plate and turned a dangerous base stealer into a station-to-station plodder. Jon Tayler,, "Matt Kemp Shed Weight, Ego and Injury to Thrive for the Club He Never Wanted to Leave," 4 July 2018 Biggest weakness: Footwork Wentz broke out in his second season and put up MVP-caliber numbers, but his completion percentage was still below average. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "Every NFL starting quarterback's biggest weakness," 27 June 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

13 Jan 2019

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).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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