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  1. capable of or made for performing calculations, especially arithmetical calculations: a calculating machine.
  2. shrewd; cautious: a wise and calculating lawyer.
  3. selfishly scheming: a cold and calculating dictator.
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Origin of calculating

First recorded in 1800–10; calculate + -ing2
Related formscal·cu·lat·ing·ly, adverbnon·cal·cu·lat·ing, adjectiveun·cal·cu·lat·ing, adjectiveun·cal·cu·lat·ing·ly, adverb


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verb (used with object), cal·cu·lat·ed, cal·cu·lat·ing.
  1. to determine or ascertain by mathematical methods; compute: to calculate the velocity of light.
  2. to determine by reasoning, common sense, or practical experience; estimate; evaluate; gauge.
  3. to make suitable or fit for a purpose; adapt (usually used passively and with an infinitive): His remarks were calculated to inspire our confidence.
  4. Chiefly Northern U.S.
    1. to think; guess.
    2. to intend; plan.
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verb (used without object), cal·cu·lat·ed, cal·cu·lat·ing.
  1. to make a computation or form an estimate.
  2. to count or rely (usually followed by on or upon): They calculated on good weather.
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Origin of calculate

1560–70; < Late Latin calculātus reckoned (past participle of calculāre), equivalent to calculus pebble (see calculus) + -ātus -ate1
Related formspre·cal·cu·late, verb (used with object), pre·cal·cu·lat·ed, pre·cal·cu·lat·ing.


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for calculating

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Into her calculating ambition had come a new and destroying element.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Calculating the instant to a nicety, he paid off the sheet and pulled up the tiller.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • He faltered; a worried and calculating look shadowed his small eyes.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • He is a cold, calculating man, who rules all who come near him.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • That's what I mean, Mr. Wentworth, by calculating the voyage.'

British Dictionary definitions for calculating


  1. selfishly scheming
  2. shrewd; cautious
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Derived Formscalculatingly, adverb


  1. to solve (one or more problems) by a mathematical procedure; compute
  2. (tr; may take a clause as object) to determine beforehand by judgment, reasoning, etc; estimate
  3. (tr; usually passive) to design specifically; aimthe car was calculated to appeal to women
  4. (intr; foll by on or upon) to depend; rely
  5. (tr; may take a clause as object) US dialect
    1. to suppose; think
    2. to intend (to do something)
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Derived Formscalculative (ˈkælkjʊlətɪv), adjective

Word Origin

C16: from Late Latin calculāre, from calculus pebble used as a counter; see calculus
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

Word Origin and History for calculating


1710, "carrying out calculations," present participle adjective from calculate. Meaning "shrewdly or selfishly seeking advantage" is attested from c.1810.

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1560s, "to compute, to estimate by mathematical means," from Latin calculatus, past participle of calculare "to reckon, compute," from calculus (see calculus). Meaning "to plan, devise" is from 1650s. Replaced earlier calculen (mid-14c.), from Old French calculer. Related: Calculable.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper