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[kal-uh-breyt] /ˈkæl əˌbreɪt/
verb (used with object), calibrated, calibrating.
to determine, check, or rectify the graduation of (any instrument giving quantitative measurements).
to divide or mark with gradations, graduations, or other indexes of degree, quantity, etc., as on a thermometer, measuring cup, or the like.
to determine the correct range for (an artillery gun, mortar, etc.) by observing where the fired projectile hits.
to plan or devise (something) carefully so as to have a precise use, application, appeal, etc.:
a sales strategy calibrated to rich investors.
Origin of calibrate
1860-65; caliber + -ate1
Related forms
calibration, noun
calibrator, calibrater, noun
intercalibration, noun
recalibrate, verb (used with object), recalibrated, recalibrating.
uncalibrated, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for calibrate
  • It does take time to learn, and good professors calibrate their coursework to build on that time.
  • Some contractors failed even to show recruits how to calibrate the sights on their weapons.
  • We need to do some more studies to calibrate the radiocarbon dates to calendar years.
  • It is now finishing preliminary tests that calibrate it against ground-based sensors.
  • And it is these reactions of anger and laughter that calibrate our moral sensitivities to those of the group.
  • Crowds are good at averaging and that too only for tasks that they had a chance to calibrate.
  • Early penguin fossils, plus mitochondrial genomes, calibrate avian evolution.
  • Two computer techs are using them to calibrate the implants.
  • Bar codes help people with diabetes calibrate glucose meters and researchers study the pollination habits of bees.
  • To calibrate your camera, you zoom all the way out and place the horizon at the top of the picture.
British Dictionary definitions for calibrate


verb (transitive)
to measure the calibre of (a gun, mortar, etc)
to mark (the scale of a measuring instrument) so that readings can be made in appropriate units
to determine the accuracy of (a measuring instrument, etc)
to determine or check the range and accuracy of (a piece of artillery)
Derived Forms
calibration, noun
calibrator, calibrater, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for calibrate

1839, verb formed from caliber + -ate (2). Related: calibrated; calibrating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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calibrate in Medicine

calibrate cal·i·brate (kāl'ə-brāt')
v. cal·i·brat·ed, cal·i·brat·ing, cal·i·brates

  1. To check, adjust, or determine the graduations of a quantitative measuring instrument by comparison with a standard.

  2. To determine the caliber of a tube.

  3. To make corrections in or adjust a procedure or process.

cal'i·bra'tor n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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calibrate in Science
  1. To check, adjust, or standardize a measuring instrument, usually by comparing it with an accepted model.

  2. To measure the diameter of the inside of a tube.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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