in·​ter·​po·​late | \ in-ˈtər-pə-ˌlāt How to pronounce interpolate (audio) \
interpolated; interpolating

Definition of interpolate

transitive verb

1a : to alter or corrupt (something, such as a text) by inserting new or foreign matter
b : to insert (words) into a text or into a conversation
2 : to insert between other things or parts : intercalate
3 : to estimate values of (data or a function) between two known values

intransitive verb

: to make insertions (as of estimated values)

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Other Words from interpolate

interpolative \ in-​ˈtər-​pə-​ˌlā-​tiv How to pronounce interpolative (audio) \ adjective
interpolator \ in-​ˈtər-​pə-​ˌlā-​tər How to pronounce interpolator (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for interpolate

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?

Interpolate comes from Latin interpolare, a verb with various meanings, among them "to refurbish," "to alter," and "to falsify." Interpolate entered English in the 17th century and was applied early on to the alteration (and in many cases corruption) of texts by insertion of additional material. Modern use of interpolate still sometimes suggests the insertion of something extraneous or spurious, as in "she interpolated her own comments into the report."

Examples of interpolate in a Sentence

He smoothly interpolates fragments from other songs into his own. He interpolated a very critical comment in the discussion.
Recent Examples on the Web But rather than learn traditional Western repertoire, Kadri set about interpolating the ragas (harmonic modes) and gamakams (ornaments and slurs) of classical South Indian music into saxophone playing. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Kadri Gopalnath, 69, Dies; Brought the Saxophone to Indian Music," 31 Oct. 2019 Both movies interpolate familiar actors’ evocatively animated faces into stylized worlds; the effect is gorgeous but unsettling, less like watching a movie in a new medium than like watching it in a dream. Judy Berman, Time, "Undone, From the Team Behind BoJack Horseman, Is the Perfect Sci-Fi Series for 2019," 9 Sep. 2019 After his discharge, Mr. Wilber and some Wildcats alumni formed a band called the Six, which aimed to interpolate recent developments in bebop and West Coast jazz into a traditional framework. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Bob Wilber, Champion of Jazz’s Legacy, Is Dead at 91," 9 Aug. 2019 The director — who’s taking on Shakespeare here for the first time — also interpolates scenes of Duke Frederick and Co. back in court, conceived ingeniously (via what resemble film vignettes) behind the scrim that bears the Fragonard painting. James Hebert, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘As You Like It’ zips along with elegance and wit in Old Globe’s Shakespeare Festival opener," 23 June 2019 Any one of these concepts could support a Black Mirror episode of its own, and Brooker does a solid job interpolating them, cutting between Ashley’s betrayal by her managers and the sisters getting to know their Ashley-bot. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Black Mirror: ‘Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too’ Is a Fascinating Jumble," 5 June 2019 Grande interpolates the melody in her verses with a saucy attitude. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The True Story Behind Ariana Grande's New Hit, "7 Rings"," 18 Jan. 2019 Top-tier artists from J. Cole to Rae Sremmurd have all interpolated old Three 6 hooks within the past four years. Patrick Lyons, Billboard, "10 Years Ago, Three 6 Mafia's 'Last 2 Walk' Almost Ruined Their Legacy," 24 June 2018 The cast is largely Japanese, with some American actors interpolated in scenes shot in this country. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "'King Kong vs. Godzilla': THR's 1963 Review," 26 June 2018

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

1612, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for interpolate

Latin interpolatus, past participle of interpolare to refurbish, alter, interpolate, from inter- + -polare (from polire to polish)

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Time Traveler for interpolate

Time Traveler

The first known use of interpolate was in 1612

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Last Updated

24 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Interpolate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for interpolate


How to pronounce interpolate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of interpolate

formal : to put (something) between other things or parts especially : to put (words) into a piece of writing or a conversation

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Comments on interpolate

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


very cautious or careful

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