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 Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, extrapolated the known population densities of mammals, birds and reptiles over the more than 12 million acres burned in New South Wales to arrive at the 800-million estimate. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, "Australia’s Bushfires Have Likely Devastated Wildlife—and the Impact Will Only Get Worse," 8 Jan. 2020 Schrödinger’s point was not, as often implied, the apparent absurdity of quantum mechanics if extrapolated up to the everyday scale. Quanta Magazine, "Real-Life Schrödinger’s Cats Probe the Boundary of the Quantum World," 25 June 2018 Second, Apptopia's numbers are extrapolated projections based on a set of assumptions. Todd Spangler, chicagotribune.com, "Disney Plus hits estimated 3.2 million app downloads on launch day," 14 Nov. 2019 The troubling numbers were extrapolated from an annual CDC family growth survey of 13,310 women ages 18 to 44. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: Violence against women sadly too common. Here’s what men can do.," 19 Sep. 2019 More research is needed to determine whether the findings can be extrapolated to all countries globally. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, "Cancer now tops heart disease as the No. 1 cause of death in these countries," 3 Sep. 2019 Using industry estimates of teen Instagram users in the U.S., Stier extrapolated to estimate there are more than 192,000 U.S. users under the age of 18 who have exposed their contact details. NBC News, "Teens take Instagram seriously — and it's costing some of them their personal data," 8 Nov. 2019 Perceptual researchers thus tend to be cautious when extrapolating from behavioral responses to experience. Dean Mobbs, Scientific American, "On the Nature of Fear," 20 Sep. 2019 In its final paragraph, the four-page study extrapolated experimental findings from a small group of 21 undecided voters to the electorate as a whole using mathematical models Epstein reported in an earlier paper. Washington Post, "Trump attacks on Google recycle baseless claims," 20 Aug. 2019

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

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolating. Accessed 18 January 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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Comments on extrapolate

What made you want to look up extrapolate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


experienced by way of someone else

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