Definition of approximate in English:

Share this entry



Pronunciation: /əˈprɒksɪmət/
Close to the actual, but not completely accurate or exact: the approximate time of death
More example sentences
  • Some Nordic countries even offer subsidized childcare services and compensation that is approximate to the actual loss of earnings.
  • You can also adjust three bars, like a graphic equaliser, controlling how recently the page was updated, how popular the site is and whether it is an exact or approximate word match.
  • He has collected nearly 30,000 entries and provided exact, equivalent or approximate words in Urdu.
estimated, rough, imprecise, inexact, coarse-grained;
near, close;
indefinite, broad, loose, general, vague, hazy, fuzzy, woolly
North American informal ballpark


Pronunciation: /əˈprɒksɪmeɪt/
[no object]
1Come close or be similar to something in quality, nature, or quantity: a leasing agreement approximating to ownership [with object]: reality can be approximated by computational techniques
More example sentences
  • This ersatz-Elizabethan mock-up, approximating to some incomplete and sketchy idea of the original, provides an anodyne facsimile of Elizabethan experience, from which the roughness, stench, and hazard have been removed.
  • The normal workings of the rugby world are put on hold in the week before an international, but as soon as something approximating to business as usual resumes tomorrow morning, the inquest which has been brewing all week will begin.
  • The only thing approximating to a real dessert was baklava, a particularly mean and thankless example of its kind being dry, almost syrup and nut-free.
be close to, be near to, come close to, come near to, approach, border on, verge on, equal roughly;
be similar to, resemble, correspond to, compare with, be tantamount to, be not dissimilar to, be not unlike;
touch, nudge, get on for
1.1 [with object] Estimate or calculate (a quantity) fairly accurately: I had to approximate the weight of my horse
More example sentences
  • The latter was calculated by approximating the surface area to that of a spheroid.
  • The three definitions include or exclude certain items in an effort to provide a picture of inflation that more accurately approximates the particular inflation of individuals, groups, companies or economic sectors.
  • According to asymptotic theory, the distribution of maximum-likelihood estimates can be approximated by a multivariate normal distribution.


Late Middle English (in the adjectival sense 'close, similar'): from late Latin approximatus, past participle of approximare, from ad- 'to' + proximus 'very near'. The verb (originally meaning 'bring close') arose in the mid 17th century; the current adjectival sense dates from the early 19th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ap¦proxi|mate

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.