Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Almost exact or correct: the approximate time of the accident.
  • adj. Very similar; closely resembling: sketched an approximate likeness of the suspect.
  • adj. Botany Close together but not united.
  • transitive v. To come close to; be nearly the same as: This meat substitute approximates the real thing.
  • transitive v. To bring near.
  • transitive v. To bring together, as cut edges of tissue.
  • intransitive v. To come near or close, as in degree, nature, or quality.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Approaching; proximate; nearly resembling.
  • adj. Near correctness; nearly exact; not perfectly accurate.
  • v. To carry or advance near; to cause to approach.
  • v. To come near to; to approach.
  • v. To estimate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Approaching; proximate; nearly resembling.
  • adj. Near correctness; nearly exact; not perfectly accurate.
  • intransitive v. To draw; to approach.
  • transitive v. To carry or advance near; to cause to approach.
  • transitive v. To come near to; to approach.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To carry or bring near; advance closely upon; cause to approach in position, quality, character, condition, etc.
  • To come near; approach closely; figuratively, to stand in intimate relation; be remarkably similar.
  • Near in position; near to; close together.
  • In botany, said of leaves or other organs that stand near together.
  • Near in character; very similar: as, a statement closely approximate to a falsehood.
  • Nearly approaching accuracy or correctness; nearly precise, perfect, or complete: as, an approximate result; approximate values.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be close or similar
  • adj. located close together
  • v. judge tentatively or form an estimate of (quantities or time)
  • adj. not quite exact or correct
  • adj. very close in resemblance

Etymologies

Middle English, from Late Latin approximātus, past participle of approximāre, to approach : Latin ad-, ad- + proximāre, to come near (from proximus, nearest; see per1 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin approximatus, past participle of approximare ("to approach"); ad + proximare ("to come near"). See proximate. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term approximate is used above by reason of the fact that no sharps or flats were written until long after this period, but it is thought that they were occasionally interpolated by the singers quite a long time before it became customary to put them into the notation.

    A Popular History of the Art of Music From the Earliest Times Until the Present

  • A couple of weeks ago, Channel 4's Time Team archaeology programme was investigating a Roman mansio, which they described as the approximate equivalent of a motel and wayside inn, in the South of England.

    Horseshoes in Roman and post-Roman use

  • The Magic Towns, in approximate order of their date of designation, are:

    Did you know? Mexico has 36 Magic Towns.

  • There was the one about her walking home from school (uphill both ways in the snow) and seeing a man sitting on his “honkers” (the best translation we can approximate is “haunches” but it sounded much, much scarier with “honkers” inserted) on the side of the road.

    Believe | The Stiletto Gang

  • Most of all, they demonstrate how messy and approximate is the business of statecraft.

    The Courtier

  • Some of the words above seem deceptively simple, but more than often they have meanings that can only be expressed in approximate ways in other languages.

    Reflective Surface - Archives: 2004 June

  • Let us look first at the problem of inflation, since it is a fundamental assumption of any international monetary system that rates of exchange correspond in approximate fashion to the purchasing power of the two currencies in their respective countries.

    Money Makes the Mare To Go

  • This may have come from the early 70s Marvel "Origins of Superheroes" (title approximate) hardcover.

    Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources

  • First, we can ask whether a given hypothesis is a good approximation of the underlying social reality--that is, the approximate truth of the hypothesis.

    Archive 2008-12-01

  • Apart from the usual complaints about the elusiveness of the notion of approximate truth, antirealists have taken issue with this reply for two (related) reasons.

    Models in Science

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