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 The one-sentence open letter, issued by the nonprofit Center for AI Safety, is both brief and ominous, without extrapolating how the more than 300 signees foresee AI developing into an existential threat to humanity. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 30 May 2023 By pairing these two kinds of data—the physical traits of cuckoo eggs and which traits lead to an egg’s rejection—the team devised a model that extrapolated the overall cuckoo egg rejection rate of 93.7 percent. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 July 2023 To a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and the exertions of some anti-woke activists in extrapolating politicized rhetoric into the economy can stretch into caricature. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, 5 June 2023 While animal studies have demonstrated a high level of tolerance and no observed toxicity or side effects, these findings cannot be directly extrapolated to humans. The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Aug. 2023 And the findings could rewrite history beyond the moon because scientists extrapolate from the moon’s craters to determine surface ages on planets, moons and asteroids throughout the solar system. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 24 July 2023 From this analysis, the team extrapolated that the megalodon’s average overall body temperature was roughly 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which would have been about 12 degrees warmer than oceans at the time. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 June 2023 And they may be reasonably extrapolated to larger models. IEEE Spectrum, 23 June 2023 Despite the case being about affirmative action at the college level, the attorneys general extrapolated that precedent to the companies in question. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, 13 July 2023 See More

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 25 Sep. 2023.

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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