in·​ter·​ca·​late | \ in-ˈtər-kə-ˌlāt How to pronounce intercalate (audio) \
intercalated; intercalating

Definition of intercalate

transitive verb

1 : to insert (something, such as a day) in a calendar
2 : to insert or position between or among existing elements or layers

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Other Words from intercalate

intercalation \ in-​ˌtər-​kə-​ˈlā-​shən How to pronounce intercalation (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for intercalate

introduce, insert, insinuate, interpolate, intercalate, interpose, interject mean to put between or among others. introduce is a general term for bringing or placing a thing or person into a group or body already in existence. introduced a new topic into the conversation insert implies putting into a fixed or open space between or among. inserted a clause in the contract insinuate implies introducing gradually or by gentle pressure. insinuated himself into the group interpolate applies to the inserting of something extraneous or spurious. interpolated her own comments into the report intercalate suggests an intrusive inserting of something in an existing series or sequence. new chapters intercalated with the old interpose suggests inserting an obstruction or cause of delay. interpose barriers to communication interject implies an abrupt or forced introduction. interjected a question

Did You Know?

Intercalate was formed from the Latin prefix inter-, meaning "between" or "among," and the Latin verb calare, meaning "to proclaim" or "to call." It was originally associated with proclaiming the addition of a day or month in a calendar. An instance of intercalation occurred in the earliest versions of the Roman calendar, which originally consisted of 304 days and 10 months and was determined by the lunar cycle. When the Romans realized that they had overlooked a two-month cycle during the winter, the king "intercalated" the months January and February. Eventually, the word's use broadened to include other kinds of insertion.

Examples of intercalate in a Sentence

between the recipes for hearty peasant dishes, the author intercalates fond reminiscences of her year in the French countryside
Recent Examples on the Web Dr Whittingham discovered that when lithium ions intercalated into a substance called titanium disulphide, the interaction between the two stored a useful amount of energy. The Economist, "Nobel prize for chemistry: the lithium-ion battery," 9 Oct. 2019 Dr Whittingham discovered that when lithium ions intercalate with a substance called titanium disulphide, the interaction stores a useful amount of energy. The Economist, "Batteries, exoplanets, cosmology and cell biology win Nobel laurels," 12 Oct. 2019 To begin with, the volume of lithium invariably shrunk as the anode material shuttled off to intercalate at the cathode, which put mechanical stress on the battery. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "A Chemistry Nobel we can use: Lithium-ion batteries," 9 Oct. 2019 Nine out of the 11 were what are termed DNA-intercalating agents. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Bacteria engage in chemical warfare against viruses," 5 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intercalate.' 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 intercalate

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for intercalate

borrowed from Latin intercalātus, past participle of intercalāre "to insert (a day or month) into the calendar," from inter- inter- + calāre "to announce, proclaim" — more at low entry 3

Note: For the use of the verb calāre in the Roman management of the calendar see etymology and note at calends.

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The first known use of intercalate was in 1603

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Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Intercalate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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