The word calibrate means making precise measurement. For example, you might want to calibrate your bathroom scale now and then to be sure it’s adjusted for exact weight. Or calibrate it to read five pounds light. We won't tell.

To find the origin of calibrate, we must look at its root, caliber, which appeared in the late 15th Century Middle French as calibre, meaning "a degree of importance." Linguists trace that word to an Arabic beginning, the word qalib, which referred to a mold for making bullets. That meaning seems to have carried over to our word, the verb calibrate, which first meant to measure the range of a projectile such as a bullet or shell.

Definitions of calibrate
  1. verb
    make fine adjustments or divide into marked intervals for optimal measuring
    calibrate an instrument”
    synonyms: fine-tune, graduate
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    type of:
    adjust, correct, set
    alter or regulate so as to achieve accuracy or conform to a standard
  2. verb
    mark (the scale of a measuring instrument) so that it can be read in the desired units
    “he calibrated the thermometer for the Celsius scale”
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    type of:
    label, mark, tag
    attach a tag or label to
  3. verb
    measure the caliber of
    calibrate a gun”
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    type of:
    measure, measure out, mensurate
    determine the measurements of something or somebody, take measurements of
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