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Alternative forms[edit]

  • calibre (more common form in UK etc)


From French calibre (bore of a gun, size, capacity (literally, and figuratively), also weight), from Italian calibro.



caliber (countable and uncountable, plural calibers) (British spelling, Australia, Canada, New Zealand)

  1. Diameter of the bore of a firearm, typically measured between opposite lands.
  2. The diameter of round or cylindrical body, as of a bullet, a projectile, or a column.
  3. A nominal name for a cartridge type, which may not exactly indicate its true size and may include other measurements such as cartridge length or black powder capacity. Eg 7.62×39 or 38.40.
  4. Unit of measure used to express the length of the bore of a weapon. The number of calibres is determined by dividing the length of the bore of the weapon, from the breech face of the tube to the muzzle, by the diameter of its bore. A gun tube the bore of which is 40 feet (480 inches) long and 12 inches in diameter is said to be 40 calibers long.
  5. (figuratively) Relative size, importance, magnitude.
  6. (figuratively) Capacity or compass of mind.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Burke to this entry?)
  7. (dated) Degree of importance or station in society.

Related terms[edit]




The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., Clarendon Press, 1989.


  • caliber