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 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 Among these are recency bias: the natural human inclination to extrapolate recent events (such as the price increase in a stock) to infinity. James Berman, Forbes, 3 Sep. 2021 To extrapolate pathogens collective threat to humanity’s agricultural future in the face of climate change, Bebber and colleagues applied four different climate models and three crop models. Shi En Kim, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Aug. 2021 The researchers used an algorithm to extrapolate estimates for all species in their sample. Jen Christiansen, Scientific American, 19 July 2021 But anyone who tells you it’s possible to extrapolate the answers from summer school is lying. Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2021 While social data is plentiful and growing, there is a shortage of those who understand how to find the right data, mine it, and extrapolate actionable, beneficial insights. Todd Wasserman, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Most people can’t look at sales pipeline data and extrapolate out to company health. Jack Altman, Forbes, 7 June 2021 The new James Webb telescope, which is expected to launch this fall to study the Cosmic Dawn, may provide data that could help scientists extrapolate backwards into the Dark Ages. Chris Wright, Wired, 15 June 2021 With its Cryo-NIRSP instrument for observing the corona, and the ability to extrapolate the magnetic field configurations in the low corona, all three sets of eruptions might soon be fully explained. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 8 June 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near extrapolate

extra point


extrapolation chamber

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Statistics for extrapolate

Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolate. Accessed 21 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for extrapolate



English Language Learners Definition of extrapolate

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

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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