Cal"i*ber, Cal"ibre (?), n. [F. calibre, perh. fr. L. qualibra of what pound, of what weight; hence, of what size, applied first to a ball or bullet; cf. also Ar. qalib model, mold. Cf. Calipers, Calivere.]

1. Gunnery

The diameter of the bore, as a cannon or other firearm, or of any tube; or the weight or size of the projectile which a firearm will carry; as, an 8 inch gun, a 12-pounder, a 44 caliber.

The caliber of empty tubes. Reid.

A battery composed of three guns of small caliber. Prescott.

The caliber of firearms is expressed in various ways. Cannon are often designated by the weight of a solid spherical shot that will fit the bore; as, a 12-pounder; pieces of ordnance that project shell or hollow shot are designated by the diameter of their bore; as, a 12 inch mortar or a 14 inch shell gun; small arms are designated by hundredths of an inch expressed decimally; as, a rifle of .44 inch caliber.

2.

The diameter of round or cylindrical body, as of a bullet or column.

3.

Fig.: Capacity or compass of mind.

Burke.

Caliber compasses. See Calipers. -- Caliber rule, a gunner's calipers, an instrument having two scales arranged to determine a ball's weight from its diameter, and conversely. -- A ship's caliber, the weight of her armament.

 

© Webster 1913.

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