cal·​a·​mari ˌkä-lə-ˈmär-ē How to pronounce calamari (audio)
: squid used as food

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The word calamari was borrowed into English from 17th-century Italian, where it functioned as the plural of "calamaro" or "calamaio." The Italian word, in turn, comes from the Medieval Latin noun calamarium, meaning "ink pot or "pen case," and can be ultimately traced back to Latin calamus, meaning "reed pen." The transition from pens and ink to squid is not surprising, given the inky substance that a squid ejects and the long tapered shape of the squid's body. English speakers have also adopted "calamus" itself as a word referring to both a reed pen and to a number of plants.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Add-on options include Italian sausage, lobster bisque, calamari and chicken Milanese. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 12 Nov. 2022 The sweet and spicy birds eye chili calamari at Cabana in Newport, Rhode Island. Globe Staff,, 11 July 2022 Otherwise, the poached calamari (sliced into ribbons, formed into a turban and topped with seaweed matchsticks and a quail egg) is as compelling as ever. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2022 Cut them horizontally into coins and make vegan scallops or mushroom calamari. Casey Barber, CNN, 12 Sep. 2022 From a collection of pictures posted on Instagram, the table looks to have ordered many dishes including a crispy calamari salad, bucatini carbonara and chocolate pudding. Sabrina Weiss, Peoplemag, 2 Aug. 2022 But its extensive menu offers much more, including seafood chowder, Digby scallops, calamari, fish cakes, pickled herring and pan-seared haddock. Walter Nicklin, Washington Post, 13 Aug. 2022 Clockwise from top left a cubano sandwich, vegan cauliflower wings, a rueben, an italian sub and vegan calamari at The Bodega on Smith Street. Globe Staff,, 11 June 2022 Among the middle-class families were a few garrulous groups of men with tattooed arms, roaring genially in dialect and dispatching huge plates of calamari with messy gusto. Maria Shollenbarger, Travel + Leisure, 20 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'calamari.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Italian, plural of calamaro, calamaio, from Medieval Latin calamarium ink pot, from Latin calamus; from the inky substance the squid secretes

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of calamari was in 1826


Dictionary Entries Near calamari

Cite this Entry

“Calamari.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



cal·​a·​mari ˌkä-lə-ˈmär-ē How to pronounce calamari (audio)
: squid used as food

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