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.

Examples of calamari in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The menu is full of casual seafood favorites such as lobster rolls, fish and chips, fish sandwiches, calamari, and fresh oysters. Jared Kaufman, Twin Cities, 23 May 2024 And the kitchen turns out food — beet salad, calamari and pesto pasta, as well as burgers and fish and chips — that’s a cut above the usual pub fare. Jay R. Brooks, The Mercury News, 21 May 2024 The plancha-style calamari (cut in the shape of a flower) and the vegetarian paella were both delicately seasoned and beautifully arranged. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 May 2024 However, dishes like salt-and-pepper calamari and laksa — a Malaysian spicy coconut noodle soup — are commonly found in pubs throughout the country. Lennie Omalza, The Courier-Journal, 16 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for calamari 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'calamari.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 12 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

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