When working with empirical measurements, one often needs to render additional data based on the approximation from the provided by the observation. In the professional terms it is referred to as interpolation and extrapolation. The former meaning that we actually fill in the gaps whereas the latter implies extending the edges.

It's been increasingly painful to write both (and in most cases we do both), so I wonder if there's a smooth way to express both in one shot. I can think of rephrasing or describing the action but I'm looking for a correct term meaning interpolation and/or extrapolation (of data).

  • Why do you think that is increasingly painful to write both? In fact, I cannot understand that part of the question.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 20:46
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    @Cardinal Not sure if I understand your question. It is increasingly painful because feel it is. That's my experience of those terms. Of course, it's purely subjective and there might be entire nations consisting of individuals who get ecstatic at the joy of typing in those terms (kudos to them). However, as far my willingness to write unnecessarily many characters stretches, is awfully limited (current comment being an amusing exception). Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 20:51
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    I understand. You are looking for a way to polate! Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 20:52
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    nope, as far as I know from math, science, and, like Cardinal, digital signal processing, there's really no other options because the two words actually say exactly what is intended. Is it painful to type repeatedly, or painful because of its Latinish-sounding jargon ? If the former - try setting up a hotkey ;-P ... if the latter, oh well, we're stuck with it. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 21:01
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    LOL - the common language root of English and Swedish are (Northern) Germanic. Looks to me that typing "verksamhetsnära" might be as annoying as Inter/Extra-polation ... (ps I love German, but it, like English can get tedious too.) ... so If you have to interpolate between two skunks (also know as Polecats), you'd have to Interpolecatpolate. (ouch) Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


The English word interpolate was first seen between 1605 and 1615, and is based on the past participle of the Latin interpolāre, with the meaning to make new, refurbish, touch up.

The Latin Interpolare itself originated in inter- (between) and polare, which is related to polire, with the meaning to buff or smooth. (Our English verb and noun polish has its origin there, as well.)

Extrapolate is the verb form of the noun Extrapolation, which was created by analogy with Interpolation. The prefix inter (between) was replaced with the prefix extra (outside (of) or without.) The first known use of Extrapolation was in 1874, and it was apparently coined specifically as a methematical term with the meaning "an inserting of intermediate terms in a mathematical series." Its more general use with the sense of "drawing of a conclusion about the future based on present tendencies" came later.

It is perhaps logical then to deduce:

If we can interpolate and extrapolate, these two verbs must describe vectors of an action called polation!

Unfortunately, no lexicographer agrees with that deduction. However, it is heartening to remember that extrapolation itself was coined intentionally to satisfy a need for the term. Nothing thus prevents us from coining the verb to polate and its attendant form polation.

We might define to polate (provisionally and with the understanding that more work is needed) as "to alter interstices."

You might get away with coining to polate in English, if you can formulate a useful and precise definition and convince enough readers that the new verb fulfills a need. We should not misunderestimate the capacity of English to adopt new words. In this enterprise, you can be encouraged by the history of such other recent coinages as audiophile, locavore, and even refudiate, which was named as Oxford Dictionary's "Word of the Year" in 2010.

  • Refudiate? Surely that is a transitive verb meaning Elmer Fud is creating offspring? Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 23:48
  • The truth is worse. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 23:49
  • oh, right, DUH! It means "Wee - weed'ed up." LOL Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 23:51
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    If I tell my wife I spent the day polating, she'll make me find a new profession.
    – OldUgly
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 1:11

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