ex·​trap·​o·​late | \ ik-ˈstra-pə-ˌlāt How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \
extrapolated; extrapolating

Definition of extrapolate

transitive verb

1a : to predict by projecting past experience or known data extrapolate public sentiment on one issue from known public reaction on others
b : to project, extend, or expand (known data or experience) into an area not known or experienced so as to arrive at a usually conjectural knowledge of the unknown area extrapolates present trends to construct an image of the future
2 : to infer (values of a variable in an unobserved interval) from values within an already observed interval

intransitive verb

: to perform the act or process of extrapolating

Other Words from extrapolate

extrapolation \ ik-​ˌstra-​pə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \ noun
extrapolative \ ik-​ˈstra-​pə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \ adjective
extrapolator \ ik-​ˈstra-​pə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce extrapolate (audio) \ noun

The Many Uses of Extrapolate

Scientists worry about the greenhouse effect because they have extrapolated the rate of carbon-dioxide buildup and predicted that its effect on the atmosphere will become increasingly severe. On the basis of their extrapolations, they have urged governments and businesses to limit factory and automobile emissions. Notice that it's acceptable to speak of extrapolating existing data (to produce new data), extrapolating from existing data (to produce new data), or extrapolating new data (from existing data)—in other words, it isn't easy to use this word wrong.

Examples of extrapolate in a Sentence

We can extrapolate the number of new students entering next year by looking at how many entered in previous years. With such a small study it is impossible to extrapolate accurately.
Recent Examples on the Web The biologist questions, for example, the researchers’ use of a handful of survey sites in Oregon and Idaho to extrapolate monarch population trends across the entire Pacific Northwest. Wired, 9 July 2022 How best to extrapolate current trends is a matter of debate, said Dr. Srebotnjak, who has worked on past E.P.I. editions but was not involved in this year’s report or in developing the new metric. New York Times, 31 May 2022 The general notion is to use AI to examine existent molecular compounds, find computationally identifiable patterns, and then extrapolate from those patterns to propose new molecular compounds of a beneficial outcome. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 1 June 2022 Using the heading and speed from the ship’s log, Miller was able to extrapolate the position of the Lima at the time the crew claimed to have exited the glowing waters six hours later. Sam Keck Scott, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 June 2022 When their previous report was published in 2017, the Williams Institute researchers did not have actual survey data for younger teenagers, instead using statistical modeling to extrapolate based on adult data. New York Times, 10 June 2022 Romanovsky’s boreholes, for instance, deliver very detailed measurements from specific places, but researchers have to extrapolate to draw larger conclusions. Lois Parshley, Anchorage Daily News, 3 May 2022 What a coaching staff has to extrapolate from Sunday’s breakout performance by Victor Oladipo is whether the same shots and the same payoff would have come if Jimmy Butler was in the mix. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 27 Apr. 2022 Veronica Mars in this example already had a popular fan base to extrapolate funds from, most films are coming in cold which makes crowdfunding much more difficult. Josh Wilson, Forbes, 6 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extrapolate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of extrapolate

1874, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

History and Etymology for extrapolate

Latin extra outside + English -polate (as in interpolate) — more at extra-

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Time Traveler for extrapolate

Time Traveler

The first known use of extrapolate was in 1874

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Dictionary Entries Near extrapolate

extra point


extrapolation chamber

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Statistics for extrapolate

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolate. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on extrapolate

Nglish: Translation of extrapolate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extrapolate for Arabic Speakers


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