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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for approximate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His point of vantage was in the approximate center of an island of sand and shingle, a mile long, perhaps, by half a mile wide.

  • If it was practicable, he wanted to get an idea of the approximate cost.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots Caroline Lockhart
  • It wouldn't give much of a signal, but you'd know our approximate position.

    Death Wish Robert Sheckley
  • As you notice, the dump and this shack are at the approximate center.

    Lease to Doomsday Lee Archer
  • This is obviously only an approximate method of dealing with the question.

    The Story of the Heavens Robert Stawell Ball
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.


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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