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

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Other Words from extrapolate

extrapolation \ ik-​ˌstra-​pə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce extrapolation (audio) \ noun
extrapolative \ ik-​ˈstra-​pə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce extrapolative (audio) \ adjective
extrapolator \ ik-​ˈstra-​pə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce extrapolator (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 Models that extrapolate from past statistical trends can end up treating people unfairly because their circumstances are different, even if results match past patterns on average. Tom Simonite, Wired, "An Algorithm Set Students’ Grades—and Altered Their Futures," 10 July 2020 This is, of course, the day-to-day venial reality for attorneys who don’t prosecute serial killers, and Saul can always extrapolate small crimes into tall tales. Darren Franich, EW.com, "The death and life of the lawyer show," 18 June 2020 The health risks to women who freeze or donate their eggs has been extrapolated from research on I.V.F. patients — but egg donors are young and healthy, unlike most women undergoing I.V.F., who tend to be much older. Maya Dusenbery, New York Times, "What We Don’t Know About I.V.F.," 16 Apr. 2020 Fifteen people were found to have anti-MERS antibodies, which the researchers used to extrapolate that nearly 45,000 people in the country might have been exposed to the virus. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "The next frontier in coronavirus testing: Identifying the full scope of the pandemic, not just individual infections," 27 Mar. 2020 Fifteen people were found to have anti-MERS antibodies, which the researchers used to extrapolate that nearly 45,000 people in the country might have been exposed to the virus. Andrew Joseph, BostonGlobe.com, "The crucial next frontier in coronavirus testing," 27 Mar. 2020 But the coach is careful not to extrapolate too much from one play like that. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Cardinals right tackle Justin Murray still day-to-day; David Johnson practices," 4 Nov. 2019 Including nursing home deaths in overall COVID-19 data can paint a misleading picture of coronavirus risk if those figures are extrapolated and applied to the larger society. Todd Zywicki, National Review, "Nursing Homes Are in Crisis. Shutting Down the Economy Won’t Help Them.," 28 Apr. 2020 And many others, including Maine, haven't been surveyed in weeks, or have only a single data point to extrapolate from. David Faris, TheWeek, "The 3 most likely Super Tuesday outcomes," 3 Mar. 2020

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.

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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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Statistics for extrapolate

Last Updated

23 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolate. Accessed 12 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for extrapolate


How to pronounce extrapolate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of extrapolate

formal : to form an opinion or to make an estimate about something from known facts

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