Definition of approach in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /əˈprōCH/


[with object]
1Come near or nearer to (someone or something) in distance: the train approached the main line [no object]: she hadn’t heard him approach (as adjective approaching) an approaching car
More example sentences
  • In the distance could be heard approaching sirens.
  • I yelled, all of a sudden feeling frantic as I heard the train approaching the platform above me.
  • He could see, very faintly, a legion of soldiers in the distance, also approaching the forest.
move toward, come/go toward, advance toward, inch toward, go/come/draw/move nearer, go/come/draw/move closer, near;
close in, gain on;
reach, arrive at
1.1Come near or nearer to (a future time or event): he was approaching retirement
More example sentences
  • She's trailing in the polls approaching Election Day and the municipal tax base doesn't have the funds to cover the rising costs at local school boards.
  • Better results are expected in the near future as Bulgaria approaches EU integration, completes the privatisation process and sees its economy flourish.
  • The combination left him with a third second place - and no doubt a desire for revenge as he approached the 2001 event.
1.2 [no object] (Of a future time) come nearer: the time is approaching when you will be destroyed
More example sentences
  • A period of great political change in this part of Europe was approaching and events began to move quickly in 1866.
  • As the full moon approaches, events take an even more sinister turn.
  • This great event is rapidly approaching and the Fort Knox team is in its final planning stages of this annual gathering.
1.3Come close to (a number, level, or standard) in quality or quantity: the population will approach 12 million by the end of the decade
More example sentences
  • The Mitta Mitta rose to the occasion with a river level of 1.7m, approaching the 2m cut-off mark when nobody is permitted to kayak or raft the river.
  • Second generation bean leaf beetles are emerging now and beetles numbers will be approaching their highest levels for the summer.
  • It also will be impossible for the two teams to approach the Bucs' level of effectiveness.
border on, verge on, approximate, touch, nudge, near, come near to, come close to
1.4 archaic Bring nearer: all those changes shall serve to approach him the faster to the blest mansion
2Speak to (someone) for the first time about something, typically with a proposal or request: the department had been approached about funding
More example sentences
  • Three years ago, I approached her with a proposal.
  • Just in case anyone I work with is reading this, see if you can guess which current highly respected staff member approached me with this request.
  • Within South Africa short-listed artists were approached to submit proposals for work that would address the themes of the exhibition.
speak to, talk to;
make advances to, make overtures to, make a proposal to, sound out, proposition
3Start to deal with (something) in a certain way: one must approach the matter with caution
More example sentences
  • One of your arguments is that a relevant matter in approaching our constitutional problem is that the respondent is resident in South Australia.
  • We cannot have a situation in which 43 different police forces approach the same problem in 43 different ways.
  • In order not to be consumed by it, I have to approach difficult problems with a healthy detachment.
tackle, set about, address oneself to, undertake, get down to, launch into, embark on, go about, come to grips with


1A way of dealing with something: we need a whole new approach to the job
More example sentences
  • It equates belief systems with what informs your approach to a situation, and evaluates the system by the results.
  • You are diplomatic and cautious in your approach to sticky situations.
  • A major plus would be his measured approach to situations, giving due weight to consequences.
2An act of speaking to someone for the first time about something, typically a proposal or request: the landowner made an approach to the developer
More example sentences
  • She said a survey had been carried out in Tosside following an approach from a planning agent on behalf of a local landowner.
  • It has already indicated that it has received an approach from a mystery bidder now known to be a private equity group.
  • The company is braced for an approach from its German rival with a plan that will see them merge their core operations.
2.1 (approaches) dated Behavior intended to propose personal or sexual relations with someone: feminine resistance to his approaches
More example sentences
  • She told a District Court inquiry this week that she had taped telephone conversations with him in 2000 and 2001 because she feared he would kill her after she rejected his approaches.
  • When she rejected his approaches, he began to treat her meanly and find fault with her.
  • But she knew why he would never because she would never accept his approaches.
3 [in singular] The action of coming near or nearer to someone or something in distance or time: the approach of winter
More example sentences
  • Lovely picture, though I don't care for the approach of winter that the orangey browns promise, I do love these colours.
  • Ethnographers say that Baba Marta is the threshold between the end of the winter season and the approach of summer.
  • Autumn is a season for spectacle, made all the more gaudy by the imminent approach of winter.
3.1 (approach to) An approximation to something: the past is impossible to recall with any approach to accuracy
3.2The part of an aircraft’s flight in which it descends gradually toward an airfield or runway for landing: the aircraft completed the approach and touched down
More example sentences
  • The approach and landing were uneventful and the crew and aircraft were recovered safely.
  • He set up for a half-flap approach and lowered the landing gear with the emergency system.
  • Keep the ball in the middle in all phases of the approach to align the aircraft for maximum efficiency.
4 (usually approaches) A road, sea passage, or other way leading to a place: the eastern approach to the town
More example sentences
  • Three new pedestrian islands will be built and an anti-skid coating applied in Brunshaw Road on the approaches to the roundabout.
  • The war caused the temporary suspension of this plan; nevertheless, a sum of £6,600 was spent on concreting the quay roads and approaches to the berths.
  • The minehunters had been in the area clearing unexploded weapons, including mines, from the approaches to the port.


Middle English: from Old French aprochier, aprocher, from ecclesiastical Latin appropiare 'draw near', from ad- 'to' + propius (comparative of prope 'near').

  • ‘Bringing near’ is involved in approach, which is from Old French aprochier, aprocher, from ecclesiastical Latin appropiare ‘draw near’.

Words that rhyme with approach

broach, brooch, coach, encroach, loach, poach, reproach, roach

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ap·proach

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.