Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “calculable effects.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The effects were calculable.”)
When something is calculable, you can figure it out for certain, possibly by doing some math (some calculations.) That meaning can go a little further, too: something calculable is also reliable. (You can count on it!)
Let's also focus on the opposite, incalculable ("in CAL kyuh luh bull.") Something incalculable can't be figured out for certain, can't be predicted, can't be relied on. And, an incalculable number or quality is just enormous or extreme.
calculably, calculability, incalculably, incalculability
How to use it:
Talk about a calculable impact or effect, a calculable return or reaction, a calculable risk, a calculable action or pattern or phenomenon, calculable value or usefulness, the calculable extent to which something is true, a calculable amount or cost or distance or speed, and so on.
You might talk about any of the above concepts being incalculable: incalculable impacts and effects, incalculable returns and reactions, and so on. But you can also use "incalculable" as a very powerful replacement for "extreme" and "enormous" (and "incalculably" for "extremely" and "enormously,") as in incalculable joy, incalculable damage, incalculably better, incalculably influential, etc.
If you're a longtime reader, you might recall the issue about "quantifiable" and doubt whether you also need "calculable" in your vocabulary if they mean the same thing. Okay, yes, they both describe things that can be counted or specified. (Like back when my friend Stephanie at summer camp would take notes on how much time I spent blowdrying my hair, because she thought it was a waste of time, and then she presented me with her quantifiable, calculable results.) But quantifiable things are able to be expressed in an exact amount, while calculable things are able to be determined by a process of using math or making a prediction. It's the difference between just counting something up and actually performing a mathematical operation, if merely figurative. Also, "calculable" carries the abstract sense of "reliable," while "quantifiable" bears the sense of "explicit, clear," and you probably shouldn't swap those meanings around.
Educational psychologists have found that self-handicapping behaviors, like picking impossible goals and procrastinating, place a calculable drain on achievement.
In much of science fiction, notably in Star Trek: Enterprise, an android character like Data wrestles with the incalculability of human emotions, relationships, and interactions.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "calculable" means when you can explain it without saying “knowable" or "computable."
Imagine you could have any single amazing skill you could wish for, and fill in the blanks: "(Knowing/Being able to/Having) _____ would provide an incalculable advantage when it comes to _____."
Example: "Being able to remember everything I'm told in conversation would provide an incalculable advantage when it comes to getting to know people more deeply."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for July is called A Verbal Tour of the US. I’ll ask you a trivia question each day this month about the names of US cities, states, geographic features, etc. Try it out each day, and see the right answer the next day. Happy verbal trails to you!
If you’re planning a nice, safe, peaceful trip across the US this summer, you probably don’t want to stop in H_____, Nebraska (too dangerous!) or H___, Michigan (scary and hot!). What are these places called? And of course, I’m joking about their descriptions, but yes, they are real.
Answer: Hazard, Nebraska and Hell, Michigan. If you do end in up in Hell (Michigan), Google Maps tells me you can do some shopping at Smitty’s Sauces & Seasonings from Hell, then crash at the Dam Site Inn. Also on your tour of places that make your kids giggle: Pee Pee, Ohio, and Kickapoo, Kansas. (Actually, there are many Kickapoos, not just in Kansas. Who knew?)
Try this one today:
The name of this US territory means “rich port.” It’s an example of a certain type of landform—a string of islands— that we call by a word with Greek roots meaning “chief” and “sea.” What’s the name of the territory? And what’s the name of the landform?
A Point Well Made:
Adrienne Rich: “Silence ... can be fertilizing, it can bathe the imagination, it can, as in great open spaces – I think of those plains stretching far below the Hopi mesas in Arizona – be the nimbus of a way of life, a condition of vision.”
1. Another opposite of CALCULABLE is
2. Even _____ is, nevertheless, an incalculable loss.
A. a national tragedy that stays in the minds of citizens everywhere
B. the death of one beloved family member who had aged over ninety years
C. the choice to prioritize parenthood over career advancement
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
online math games:
Colorful games for kids in grades 1 - 6.
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