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

Particularly the reaction to the first goal, then the reaction to the second goal, which for a team of our caliber and professionalism is very poor. Mike Gramajo, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride fall 3-0 to surging North Carolina Courage," 30 June 2018 And Kyle Peterson, who starred as a Stanford pitcher (1995-97), did his usual big league-caliber work for ESPN at the College World Series. Bruce Jenkins,, "Mexico hopes to end streak against Brazil," 29 June 2018 Its appeal lies wholly in providing an immersive companion to the BET Awards, one of the few shows of its caliber in which black entertainers take center stage. Gerrick D. Kennedy,, "Smokin' Grooves, BET Experience offer varying ambitions for R&B, rap fans," 21 June 2018 Despite not currently having a horse of Milton's caliber, Whitaker is still looking ahead to a possible seventh Olympic appearance. Aly Vance, CNN, "John Whitaker: The 62-year-old eying the Tokyo Olympics," 29 May 2018 For now, Kelly appears most concerned with the state of his live concert business — a reliable revenue stream for any artist of his hit-making caliber. Joe Coscarelli,, "After years of allegations, R. Kelly faces a #MeToo reckoning," 1 May 2018 Agents traced the signal, discovering the deceased bear had been shot twice with a large caliber weapon. Joshua Hafner, ajc, "Hunter fined $10,000 for killing black bear in Louisiana," 12 July 2018 Officials quickly called the bomb disposal unit to remove and dispose of the 3 inch caliber dud tank artillery shell. Deutsche Welle, USA TODAY, "American tourist takes unexploded World War II shell to Vienna Airport," 12 July 2018 Out the window, a helicopter whirs past CenturyLink Field, where Wilson compiled half of his MVP-caliber 2017 season, his sixth as the Seahawks’ QB. Jamie Lisanti,, "Fashionable 50," 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

8 Sep 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 magnificent or impressive array

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