He comes in last: I am not looking at the arch, yet I see him enter. I try to concentrate my attention on those netting-needles, on the meshes of the purse I am forming—I wish to think only of the work I have in my hands, to see only the silver beads and silk threads that lie in my lap; whereas, I distinctly behold his figure, and I inevitably recall the moment when I last saw it; just after I had rendered him, what he deemed, an essential service, and he, holding my hand, and looking down on my face, surveyed me with eyes that revealed a heart full and eager to overflow; in whose emotions I had a part. How near had I approached him at that moment! What had occurred since, calculated to change his and my relative positions?
(Jane Eyre)

What’s the meaning of ‘calculated’ in the example?

3 Answers 3


Rather than in any way indicating calculation or planning, calculated here serves as a synonym of apt or likely. OED 1 shows the following two senses of calculated:

  1. Reckoned, estimated, devised with forethought
  2. Fitted, suited, fit, apt; of a nature or character proper or likely to. [eg] 1722 De Foe ... The state of life that I was now in was ... perfectly calculated to make a man completely happy.

It is the second sense that applies in the quoted passage.


It means "planned or intended for a specific purpose".

The most common meaning of "calculate" is to find the result of a mathematical problem. Like, "We entered all the numbers into the computer and it calculated the results." When someone says that an action that a person took was "calculated to do X", he means that it was very carefully and deliberately planned, like the person had turned the whole situation into a math problem and then calculated how to get the desired outcome.


I think that last sentence could be rewritten like this:

What are the things calculated to change his and my relative positions that happened since that moment?

I hope this is what you were asking and that it makes sense :)

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