Definition of calibre in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkalɪbə/
(US caliber)


1 [mass noun] The quality of someone’s character or the level of their ability: they could ill afford to lose a man of his calibre
More example sentences
  • Candidates of character and calibre with a sense of dedication and social commitment alone are to be elected.
  • And they are well aware of our real character, our real calibre, and our real commitment to putting the people first.
  • Love them or hate them, leaders of high calibre have the ability to grip the imagination; to make people feel that they've been swept up and carried in a direction of great promise.
quality, merit, distinction, character, worth, stature, excellence, superiority, eminence, pre-eminence;
ability, expertise, talent, capability, capacity, proficiency, competence;
1.1The standard reached by something: educational facilities of a very high calibre
More example sentences
  • With players of that calibre reaching full fitness and Duff still to be unleashed, the next couple of months could well prove extremely interesting.
  • Still if they can manage to recruit the right calibre of personnel to stand alongside Mayor Nuala Ryan who knows how things may pan out for them.
  • So what does an actor of MacLachlan's calibre do to reach the A-list - even if it's just for a fleeting moment?
standard, level, grade, quality
2The internal diameter or bore of a gun barrel: [in combination]: a small-calibre revolver
More example sentences
  • Improved projectiles were as important as larger calibres and longer barrels.
  • The barrel flutes vary in size for different calibers and barrel lengths, and perform a couple of functions.
  • For larger calibers and long-gun bores, the 3 - Piece Large Rifle Calibers and Shotgun Kits contain a larger-diameter rod.
2.1The diameter of a bullet, shell, or rocket.
Example sentences
  • At least 834 bullets of various calibers, weapons and three ready-to-use bomb circuits were also confiscated.
  • While the gargantuan engineering firm is better known for its hydro dams in Cree country, it also makes a lot of bullets, of different calibres, specifications and killing techniques.
  • Anyway, eh, I figure that the calibre of the bullets, plus the range and angle used whilst firing the weapon on the lock would figure in to it somewhere.
2.2The diameter of a body of circular section, such as a tube, blood vessel, or fibre: the reduction in calibre of arterial vessels
More example sentences
  • It regulates the calibre of blood vessels to vary the distribution of blood to the organs, whilst also maintaining the correct blood pressure.
  • A decrease in the caliber of blood vessels going to the ‘light’ areas suggests airway disease or vasculopathy.
  • Mental states occasion also changes in the calibre of blood-vessels, or alteration in the heart-beats, or processes more subtle still, in glands and viscera.



[in combination]: a large-calibred gun
More example sentences
  • Whereupon the man drew a heavy calibered revolver and shot him in the abdomen, the bullet coming out through his side.
  • In fact, the only large calibered piece not thus mounted is the Schneider mortar, a very efficient weapon, having a remarkably smooth recoil, which has a range of over six miles.
  • This is a paper target handgun and small calibered rifle range.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'social standing or importance'): from French, from Italian calibro, perhaps from Arabic qālib 'mould', based on Greek kalapous 'shoemaker's last'.

  • This word, now meaning ‘the quality of someone's character or ability’ and ‘internal diameter or bore of a gun barrel’, travelled around the Mediterranean and Middle East before arriving in English during the 16th century. It may have started in Greece, from where the word kalapous, ‘shoemaker's last’, migrated east and became Arabic qālib, ‘mould for casting metal’. The jump to Italy or Spain and then France produced the spelling calibre, and from there it came to England, where it first meant ‘social standing or importance’. The sense changes seem to have been from the mould to metal to something for casting bullets, then since the calibre of a gun determines its effectiveness this was interpreted as indicating personal qualities. Calliper (late 16th century), which would have been used for something to measure the diameter of a bullet, is an alteration of calibre.

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Line breaks: cali|bre

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