[kahm; older use kam; spelling pronunciation kahlm]
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adjective, calm·er, calm·est.
  1. without rough motion; still or nearly still: a calm sea.
  2. not windy or stormy: a calm day.
  3. free from excitement or passion; tranquil: a calm face; a calm manner.
  1. freedom from motion or disturbance; stillness.
  2. Meteorology. wind speed of less than 1 mile per hour (0.447 m/sec).
  3. freedom from agitation, excitement, or passion; tranquillity; serenity: She faced the possibility of death with complete calm.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make calm: He calmed the excited dog.
verb (used without object)
  1. to become calm (usually followed by down).

Origin of calm

1350–1400; (noun, adj.) Middle English calm(e) < Italian calma (noun), calmo (adj.) < Late Latin cauma summer heat (with l perhaps from Latin calēre to be hot) < Greek kaûma (stem kaumat-) burning heat; akin to kaíein to burn (see caustic); (v.) Middle English calmen < Italian calmare, derivative of the noun
Related formscalm·ing·ly, adverbcalm·ly, adverbcalm·ness, nounqua·si-calm, adjectivequa·si-calm·ly, adverbun·calm, adjectiveun·calm·ly, adverbun·calm·ness, noun

Synonyms for calm

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Synonym study

3. Calm, collected, composed, cool imply the absence of agitation. Calm implies an unruffled state, especially under disturbing conditions: calm in a crisis. Collected implies complete inner command of oneself, usually as the result of an effort: He remained collected in spite of the excitement. One who is composed has or has gained dignified self-possession: pale but composed. Cool implies clarity of judgment along with apparent absence of strong feeling or excitement, especially in circumstances of danger or strain: so cool that he seemed calm.

Antonyms for calm Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for calm

Contemporary Examples of calm

Historical Examples of calm

  • Then Pericles arose, and looked around him with calm dignity.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • She was maintaining that calm level of submission to fate which had been her lifelong habit.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • He was calm of face, but she guessed an excitement beneath the surface.

  • By retaining his own calm he saw that he kept a great advantage.

  • But for that she did not love him enough, neither was she yet calm enough in herself to be able for it.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for calm


  1. almost without motion; stilla calm sea
  2. meteorol of force 0 on the Beaufort scale; without wind
  3. not disturbed, agitated, or excited; under controlhe stayed calm throughout the confusion
  4. tranquil; serenea calm voice
  1. an absence of disturbance or rough motion; stillness
  2. absence of wind
  3. tranquillity
  1. (often foll by down) to make or become calm
Derived Formscalmly, adverbcalmness, noun

Word Origin for calm

C14: from Old French calme, from Old Italian calma, from Late Latin cauma heat, hence a rest during the heat of the day, from Greek kauma heat, from kaiein to burn
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 calm

late 14c., from Old French calme "tranquility, quiet," traditionally from Old Italian calma, from Late Latin cauma "heat of the mid-day sun" (in Italy, a time when everything rests and is still), from Greek kauma "heat" (especially of the sun), from kaiein "to burn" (see caustic). Spelling influenced by Latin calere "to be hot." Figurative application to social or mental conditions is 16c.


late 14c., from Old French calme, carme "stillness, quiet, tranquility," from the adjective (see calm (adj.)).


late 14c., from Old French calmer or from calm (adj.). Related: Calmed; calming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper