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 Ford v Ferrari uses international corporate competition to extrapolate masculine rivalries. Armond White, National Review, "Ford v Ferrari Makes Race-Car Movies Great Again," 22 Nov. 2019 This panel extrapolates one the future of clubbing culture and imagines what the dance floor could look like in 2030. Kat Bein, Billboard, "These Are the 30 Best Events Happening at Amsterdam Dance Event 2019," 14 Oct. 2019 The scheduling systems used to staff most major retail and fast food chains have gotten extremely good at using past sales data to extrapolate how much business to expect every hour of the coming week. Emily Guendelsberger, Vox, "I was a fast-food worker. Let me tell you about burnout.," 15 July 2019 Thus, the parties need not use divining tools to extrapolate from those orders what does or does not constitute non-compliance. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "Federal judge: Let doctors into child migrant detention centers, quickly," 30 June 2019 Such top-down calculations would look at forecasts for gross domestic product, as well as inflation, interest rates and corporate tax rates, and then use such figures to extrapolate overall corporate earnings. Simon Constable, WSJ, "Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down," 8 July 2018 These projections of sea level in 2300 can't ignore that factor, so the researchers extrapolate out current trends. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "It keeps going: 1 meter sea-level rise by 2300 is now inevitable," 7 Nov. 2019 Policing experts caution against extrapolating from one year of data — the numbers can fluctuate from year to year — but six fatal shootings is more than most police departments in similarly sized cities have recorded. New York Times, "Fort Worth Police Have More Violence to Answer For, Residents Say," 20 Oct. 2019 This is a more reliable source of information than trends extrapolated from anecdotes in diners or at campaign stops, and anyone who wants these numbers explained and contextualized can turn to a variety of professional forecasters. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Joe Biden Is Right About The New York Times," 13 Oct. 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

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Extrapolate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extrapolation?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=e&file=extrap02. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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