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

transitive verb

: to predict by projecting past experience or known data
extrapolate public sentiment on one issue from known public reaction on others
: 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
: 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
extrapolation noun
extrapolative adjective
extrapolator noun

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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 This kind of thinking may be related to therapy, but it has since been extrapolated wholesale into Hollywood tropes. Kim Hew-Low, New York Times, 16 May 2024 But Attia often extrapolates from scientific data to offer jarringly intense and specific advice. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 15 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for extrapolate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'extrapolate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of extrapolate was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near extrapolate

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolate. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ex·​trap·​o·​late ik-ˈstrap-ə-ˌlāt How to pronounce extrapolate (audio)
extrapolated; extrapolating
: to work out unknown facts from known facts
extrapolation noun
extrapolator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on extrapolate

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