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

Third-party data providers must extrapolate to make up for that, meaning their data may not be as precise as well-level data maintained by companies. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Fracking’s Secret Problem—Oil Wells Aren’t Producing as Much as Forecast," 2 Jan. 2019 The modelers extrapolated from the then-current use of 19 commodities and projected the exhaustion, before 2012, of the supply of 12 — aluminum, copper, gold, lead, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, oil, silver, tin, tungsten and zinc. George Will, Twin Cities, "George Will: Scarcities are recyclable excuses for expanding government," 13 June 2019 The modelers extrapolated from the then-current use of 19 commodities and projected the exhaustion, before 2012, of the supply of twelve — aluminum, copper, gold, lead, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, oil, silver, tin, tungsten, and zinc. George Will, National Review, "The Scarcity Scam," 13 June 2019 His number-crunchers had extrapolated the trend out 16 years: 2034. al.com, "What’s it going to take, Alabama, to learn these are not your friends?," 5 June 2019 That data can’t reasonably be extrapolated to places like China where the pathogen environment and genetic backgrounds of the people living there look very different from the Brits. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "A Study Exposes the Health Risks of Gene-Editing Human Embryos," 3 June 2019 Economists look to the report for a read on domestic demand and to extrapolate hiring and wage trends in the broader economy. Maria Armental, WSJ, "Small-Business Owners’ Confidence in U.S. Economy Weakens," 8 Jan. 2019 The European Banking Authority tested the year-end 2017 balance sheets of 48 banks to assess their financial strength, extrapolating to cover the effects of hypothetical events in 2018-20. Philip Georgiadis, WSJ, "Barclays, Lloyds Fare Poorly in EU’s Bank Stress Tests," 2 Nov. 2018 The building extrapolates upon the signature undulating promenade design of Copacabana Beach (made by Roberto Burle Marx). Nick Remsen, Vogue, "Rio de Janeiro, Right Now: 5 Reasons to Visit the Extraordinary Brazilian City," 19 Mar. 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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Statistics for extrapolate

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for extrapolate

The first known use of extrapolate was in 1874

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More Definitions for extrapolate



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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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