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Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

Calibre has an alternative spelling of caliber with a US tag, but is this a hard and fast rule. I noticed calibre used in a US published novel, but it was old (mid thirties). Did it change over time, or does it vary with publishers.--Dmol 15:29, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

It's more of a suggestion than a rule, really. It's not as if a reader wouldn't understand the word spelled other-sideanly. "Calibre" might convey something non-US to a US reader, which might contribute to the atmospherics of a work. If I were writing a Western I wouldn't use "calibre". DCDuring TALK 15:39, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I think calibre would be clear, but considered a mistake in any current US work, or at the very least distracting to the reader by drawing attention to an unaccustomed spelling. To a US audience this would only convey that a work was written with British or Canadian spelling, not anything about the setting or characters (except perhaps if it was a direct quote of a written letter or signage). Michael Z. 2008-05-01 16:15 Z

Hi, I'd like to contest the 'obsolete' definition of calibre. I'm a 16 year old, I understand that meaning of it very clearly, and I use it from time to time. If this is the case, where the hell did it get pulled that it's an obsolete term? Even if I didn't know the exact definition, hearing it used that way would be a pretty clear meaning. "That man is of the finest calibre." - calibre = size, size can be compared with importance or quality (especially considering the word 'finest' in the sentence), and the word 'finest' there just makes it obvious that the sentence means "That man is of the finest quality."

I agree, and have changed it to "dated" instead. It is still in use.--Dmol 03:03, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Should calibre or caliber take preference?[edit]

Currently, the Wiktionary entry for calibre has most of the information, and caliber is described just as a US variant spelling of calibre. The Google NGRAM database of word use in books scanned for the Google Books project shows that before 1900, calibre was indeed the dominant spelling. Around that time, caliber gained traction in the US, but calibre continued dominant in British English. As of 2008, caliber is 10X more common than calibre in American English, while calibre is just 3X more common than caliber in British English. Overall, caliber is more common, though that could in part reflect the number of US vs. British books scanned so far by Google. All in all, it looks like caliber is winning, making the dominance of calibre in Wiktionary seem dated.

Google NGRAM searches for caliber vs. calibre in: English, American English, and British English.

Your thoughts? Jbening 03:27, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Have you considered NZ English, Australian English, South African English.. etc? JamesjiaoTC 03:31, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Not to mention AA+ credit ratings? ;-) Jcwf 04:30, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Google's NGRAM only subdivides American and British English, but publications from throughout the Commonwealth are included in the results for English in general, which show caliber with a healthy lead. Or were you mocking my data-driven approach? It's the future of lexicography, so you may as well jump on board. Jbening 12:47, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Personally, I'd prefer separate entries, but the problem of keeping them synchronised means that the consensus in Wiktionary is that we should have only one entry (the one that was entered first in Wiktionary), with the other spelling being a soft redirect. I've never seen "caliber" in British English (at least, not since 1826), and I'm surprised that some Americans consider "calibre" to be a standard spelling in American English. Dbfirs 21:25, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

I have always understood "calibre" to refer to the quality of something/someone ("of high calibre"), and "caliber" to refer to the bore of a firearm. Are they really the same word?

Yes, they really are the same word, with the usage of calibre for the bore of a gun going back at least to 1588 and probably much earlier for the diameter of a cannon ball. The origin is probably Arabic qālib, a mould for casting metal, from qalaba, to turn. It's possible that, in future, the two spellings will come to be associated with separate meanings as you suggest, but current usage is not sufficiently differentiated to merit entries along those lines. Dbfirs 16:02, 10 September 2016 (UTC)