• synonyms


[uh-proo-vuh l]
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  1. the act of approving; approbation.
  2. formal permission or sanction.
  3. Philately. one of a group of selected stamps sent by a dealer to a prospective customer for examination and either purchase or return.
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  1. on approval, without obligation to buy unless satisfactory to the customer upon trial or examination and, otherwise, returnable: We ship merchandise on approval.
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Origin of approval

First recorded in 1680–90; approve + -al2
Related formsnon·ap·prov·al, nounpre·ap·prov·al, nounpro·ap·prov·al, adjectivere·ap·prov·al, nounself-ap·prov·al, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for on approval

unproved, empirical, preliminary, beginning, laboratory, momentary, pilot, preparatory, primary, provisional, speculative, temporary, tentative, test, trial, developmental, experiential, probationary, unconcluded

British Dictionary definitions for on approval


  1. the act of approving
  2. formal agreement; sanction
  3. a favourable opinion; commendation
  4. on approval (of articles for sale) for examination with an option to buy or return
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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

Word Origin and History for on approval



1680s, from approve + -al (2). According to OED, "Rare bef. 1800; now generally used instead of" approvance (1590s, from French aprovance).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with on approval

on approval

To be returned if not satisfactory, as in They're offering custom-made shoes, manufactured from a computer design, on approval. This expression, applied nearly always to the purchase of goods, was first recorded in 1870.

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see on approval; seal of approval.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.