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[ uh-prok-suh-meyt ] [ əˈprɒk səˌmeɪt ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling

verb (used with object)

to estimate.

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More about approximate

Approximate “to estimate” is based on Late Latin approximātus “drawn near to, approached,” which is based on the verb proximāre “to near, approach,” combined with the prefix ad- “to, toward.” Proximāre ultimately comes from the Latin adjective proximus “next,” which is the superlative of prope “near.” Prope is the source of the verb propiāre “to draw near,” which combined with ad- and passed through a couple of sound changes in French, such as -pi- to -ch- because of a phenomenon called palatalization, eventually becoming English approach. Approximate was first recorded in English in the early 15th century.

how is approximate used?

How can we possibly weigh [dinosaurs], and how can we be sure our assumptions aren’t wildly off the mark? Our research, published in Biological Reviews, offers a way to check. We found that two rival ways to estimate dinosaurs’ body size–long thought to be fundamentally at odds–actually offer consistent and complementary ways to approximate the weight of these prehistoric titans.

Nicolas Campione, “How do you weigh a dinosaur? There are two ways, and it turns out they’re both right,” Conversation, September 1, 2020

Researchers have long known that the Babylonians, who lived in what is now Iraq, had considerable mathematical skill: They successfully approximated the square root of 2 and understood the Pythagorean theorem nearly 4,000 years ago—more than a millennium before Pythagoras was born.

Michael Greshko, “Babylonians Tracked Jupiter With Advanced Tools: Trapezoids,” National Geographic, January 28, 2016
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[ key-ret-soo ] [ keɪˈrɛt su ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


a loose coalition of business groups.

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More about keiretsu

Keiretsu “a loose coalition of business groups” is a compound of Japanese kei “series” and retsu “line, row.” As with many words in Japanese, both kei and retsu are originally borrowings from Middle Chinese, which exerted substantial influence on other languages in East Asia, from Japanese and Korean in the north to Vietnamese in the south. Kei is cognate with Mandarin , while retsu is cognate with Mandarin liè—though the common origin is clearer if we compare kei and retsu with Cantonese hai and lit. Because Mandarin gradually lost the majority of final consonants present in Middle Chinese, liè ends with a vowel, while Japanese retsu and Cantonese lit preserve the final “tuh” sound that existed in Middle Chinese. Keiretsu was first recorded in English in the late 1970s.

how is keiretsu used?

At dinner parties in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs brag about having them. At conferences, investors discuss building them. What’s grabbing all the attention? Keiretsu …. The word originated in post-war Japan to describe the powerful groups of intertwined companies that developed as the country rebuilt its economy. The keiretsu replaced the zaibatsu, a system of large, family-held holding companies.

Sarah Tilton, “Keiretsu: An Old Word Brought Back To Life by Today's Internet Gurus,” Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2000

The country’s industrial groups, or keiretsu, are chummy clubs, and banks were willing to quietly bail out a troubled firm with “no questions asked” loans. It was not until the late 1990s that the Japanese government stepped in and began forcing banks to come clean about bad loans.

Eric Weiner, “What the U.S. Can Learn from Japan’s ‘Lost Decade,’” NPR, March 13, 2008
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[ lawr-ee-it, lor- ] [ ˈlɔr i ɪt, ˈlɒr- ] Show IPA Phonetic Respelling


deserving or having special recognition for achievement, as for poetry.

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More about laureate

Laureate “having special recognition for achievement” is adapted from Latin laureātus “crowned with laurel,” ultimately from laurus “bay tree, laurel.” Though laurus is of uncertain origin and may come instead from a long-lost language of the Mediterranean, a popular theory is that laurus is related somehow to Ancient Greek dáphnē. This theory is partially based on the occasional change of Old Latin d into Classical Latin l, as with lacrima “tear” from earlier dacrima and lingua “tongue” from earlier dingua. Laureate was first recorded in English in the late 14th century.

how is laureate used?

As an assistant editor on the desk, I wrote to the nation’s many state poets laureate—nearly every state has one—and asked them to provide us with some words of gratitude in a relentlessly difficult year …. The nation’s poets laureate have a real sense of mission. They aim to encourage an appreciation for poetry, to challenge us, to generate some buzz for the art form.

Felice Belman, “In a Dark Season, We Went Looking for Poetry,” New York Times, December 2, 2020 ​
[Joy] Harjo, Muscogee Creek, has been tapped by the Library of Congress to serve a second term as U.S. poet laureate. She said the appointment is an honor, “especially during these times of earth transformation and cultural change.”

Sandra Hale Schulman, “Joy Harjo: Poetry reminds us we're all connected,” Indian Country Today, May 6, 2020
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