extrapolate

verb
ex·trap·o·late | \ik-ˈstra-pə-ˌlāt \
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 \ noun
extrapolative \ik-ˈstra-pə-ˌlā-tiv \ adjective
extrapolator \ik-ˈstra-pə-ˌlā-tər \ 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

In New York, counties with the largest Lyme burden investigate only 20% of positive laboratory reports and then extrapolate to estimate the full number of cases. Jo Craven Mcginty, WSJ, "Lyme Disease: An Even Bigger Threat Than You Think," 22 June 2018 Is extrapolating from a few hours' worth of press briefings and demos to a cohesive analysis of the prospects of gaming at large isn't a foolproof venture? Julie Muncy, WIRED, "January Is the New November, and Other Surprising E3 Trends," 15 June 2018 Interpreting ancient predictive patterns to fit today and extrapolating from that to what will happen tomorrow is an ancient practice. Rabbi David Wolpe, Time, "Why We Shouldn't Be So Sure of Our Predictions About the Future," 20 Apr. 2018 This is also a sort-of reference to the Bible, though more to an old, racist theological concept extrapolated by some Christians from the text, used to justify slavery and discrimination against dark-skinned people. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "What two fictional Gileads can teach us about America in 2018," 12 July 2018 His office will review a 3 percent sampling of petitions and then extrapolate the results to come up with a projected total of valid signatures. Lori Weisberg, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Will convention center initiative qualify for ballot? Signatures are turned in," 9 July 2018 The details obviously would have to be filled in by actual data, but in that intervening time physicists went quite far in thoroughly extrapolating the particle’s nature. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Alien Anthropocene: How Would Other Worlds Battle Climate Change?," 13 June 2018 Ross extrapolates Medley’s annual salary would be $28,264, but that can’t be right. Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "Philly's animal shelter: No bark, no bite, no transparency | Stu Bykofsky," 14 Feb. 2018 From there, the agency extrapolated the vehicles’ movements around the city. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Dying to Know Uber's Secrets, Data-Hungry Cities Get Creative," 8 Mar. 2018

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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Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for extrapolate

The first known use of extrapolate was in 1874

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More Definitions for extrapolate

extrapolate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of extrapolate

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

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