Concretely, to calibrate an instrument is to make sure it gives very accurate measurements.
More loosely, to calibrate anything is to plan it very carefully and precisely so that it will work exactly the way you want. When you calibrate something, you make adjustments to make it perfectly accurate.
CAL uh brate
Part of speech: Transitive verb. (Like “eat,” “try,” and “want,” all transitive verbs do something to an object. You eat a banana, try a game, and want a new phone. Likewise, you calibrate something.)
calibrated, calibrating, calibration(s)
How to use it:
Use "calibrate" to give a scientific, mathematical flavor to your idea when you want to emphasize absolute precision or thorough attention to detail.
In general, you can calibrate something, calibrate something to achieve something, or calibrate something for a particular result. More specifically, talk about calibrating plans and systems; calibrating a dose or treatment; calibrating your performance (maybe based on your feedback or reflections;) calibrating your speech, writing, message, or rhetoric to/for a certain audience; calibrating one variable with, to, or against another (meaning you make adjustments to the first variable in response to whatever is going on with the second variable;) calibrating your actions to generate or avoid a certain response (or minimize or maximize that response,) and so on.
You might mention how well or how poorly something is calibrated: "accurately calibrated," "clumsily calibrated," "optimally calibrated," etc.
The text printed directly on something to be sold seems carefully calibrated to make shoppers feel excited about the product and confident in its use and value. (I love reading that stuff, thinking about how much time and research went into selecting those exact words.)
When you're administering an official one-on-one test to a student, you really have to calibrate your reactions to his wrong answers. You can't lie by acting like he's doing well, but you also have to encourage him to keep trying.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "calibrate" means when you can explain it without saying "fine-tune" or "craft."
Think of when you improved a method or routine of yours, and fill in the blanks: "By calibrating __(a particular aspect of your method or routine)___, I was able to __(achieve a certain result)___."
Example: "By calibrating the subject matter and difficulty of the novels I bring to each student, I'm usually able to help them become stronger readers without boring them too much."
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.
We’re starting off with easy questions, then working our way toward some whoppers at the end of the month, all the while focusing on funny, unusual words; surprising word histories; and cool tidbits about the language.
"Algebra” comes from words in what language, meaning “reunion of broken parts”?
The Arabic language.
Try this one today. It should feel rather difficult:
There’s a word you probably use a lot that once had the nautical meaning “towards the stern.” It starts with “A.” What is it?
A Point Well Made:
Michelangelo (his reported words): “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”
1. The opposite of CALIBRATE is
A. TO RULE
B. TO DULL
C. TO PIERCE
2. Her words were definitely calibrated, judging by _____.
A. the haste with which she spoke
B. her poetic phrases and measured pauses
C. the looks of utter confusion throughout the audience
Answers are below.
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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:
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