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[adjective uh-prok-suh-mit; verb uh-prok-suh-meyt] /adjective əˈprɒk sə mɪt; verb əˈprɒk səˌmeɪt/
near or approaching a certain state, condition, goal, or standard.
nearly exact; not perfectly accurate or correct:
The approximate time was 10 o'clock.
near; close together.
very similar; nearly identical.
verb (used with object), approximated, approximating.
to come near to; approach closely to:
to approximate an ideal.
to estimate:
We approximated the distance at three miles.
to simulate; imitate closely:
The motions of the stars can be approximated in a planetarium.
to bring near.
verb (used without object), approximated, approximating.
to come near in position, character, amount, etc.
Origin of approximate
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin approximātus drawn near to, approached (past participle of approximāre). See ap-1, proximate
Related forms
approximately, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for approximate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What is the approximate temperature for: (a) a moderate oven?

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 1 Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
  • First—approximate weight of the machine when finished and equipped.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • And can toleration in the active-spirited be ever anything more than approximate?

    The Coryston Family Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • The tale of one day will give an approximate idea of most of the days I spent with her.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • It wouldn't give much of a signal, but you'd know our approximate position.

    Death Wish Robert Sheckley
British Dictionary definitions for approximate


adjective (əˈprɒksɪmɪt)
almost accurate or exact
inexact; rough; loose: only an approximate fit
much alike; almost the same
near; close together
verb (əˈprɒksɪˌmeɪt)
(usually foll by to) to come or bring near or close; be almost the same (as)
(maths) to find an expression for (some quantity) accurate to a specified degree See accurate (sense 4)
Derived Forms
approximative, adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin approximāre, from Latin proximus nearest, from prope near
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for approximate

early 15c., from Latin approximatus, past participle of approximare "to come near to," from ad- "to" (see ad-) + proximare "come near," from proximus "nearest," superlative of prope "near" (see propinquity).


early 15c., "to bring or put close," from approximate (adj.). Meaning "to come close" is from 1789. Related: Approximated; approximating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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approximate in Medicine

approximate ap·prox·i·mate (ə-prŏk'sə-māt')
v. ap·prox·i·mat·ed, ap·prox·i·mat·ing, ap·prox·i·mates
To bring together, as cut edges of tissue. adj. (-mĭt)

  1. Relating to the contact surfaces, either proximal or distal, of two adjacent teeth; proximate.

  2. Close together. Used of the teeth in the human jaw.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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