ap·​proach | \ə-ˈprōch \
approached; approaching; approaches

Definition of approach 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to draw closer to : near approach a destination

b : to come very near to : to be almost the same as … its mathematics approaches mysticism.— Theodore Sturgeon as the quantity x approaches zero

2a : to make advances to especially in order to create a desired result was approached by several Broadway producers

b : to take preliminary steps toward accomplishment or full knowledge or experience of Try to approach the subject with an open mind.

intransitive verb

1 : to draw nearer The time is fast approaching.

2 : to make an approach in golf


plural approaches

Definition of approach (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : an act or instance of approaching the approach of summer

b : approximation In this book he makes his closest approach to greatness.

2a : the taking of preliminary steps toward a particular purpose experimenting with new lines of approach

b : a particular manner of taking such steps a highly individual approach to language

3 : a means of access : avenue

4a or approach shot : a golf shot from the fairway toward the green

b : the steps taken by a bowler before delivering the ball also : the part of the alley behind the foul line from which the bowler delivers the ball

5 : the descent of an aircraft toward a landing place The plane was on final approach.

6 : the surgical procedure or path by which access is gained to a bodily part A lateral approach was used to direct a 25-gauge, 10-cm spinal needle onto the articular pillar adjacent to the target joint.— Leslie Barnsley et al.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for approach

Synonyms: Verb

belly up, close, close in, come up, draw on, near, nigh

Synonyms: Noun

avenue, passage, path, route, way

Antonyms: Verb

back (up or away), recede, retire, retreat, withdraw

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Examples of approach in a Sentence


The cat approached the baby cautiously. Ease off the gas pedal to slow down as the bend in the road approaches. We are approaching the end of the fiscal year. This weekend we're expecting temperatures approaching 100 degrees. The success rates approach 90 percent. He has a wild laugh that sometimes approaches hysteria. a reproduction that approaches the quality of the original painting The supervisor is quite easy to approach, so don't hesitate to bring up any problems you have. We were advised to never be too aggressive when approaching a potential client.


trying a more healthy approach The cat made a cautious approach. The quiet afternoon was interrupted by the approach of a motorboat. A loud growl warned us of the bear's approach. With the approach of summer came longer, hotter days.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shipboard rolling vertical landings roast the rear of a carrier’s flight deck, as the F-35B approaches with its exhaust nozzle pointed straight down. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "U.K. F-35s Will Use Strange Rolling Carrier Landings," 16 Oct. 2018 The foxes were calmer and friendlier when approached—and also more baby-faced, with floppy ears, patchy coloring, and curlier tails. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Friendly fox genomes help us understand the genetics of behavior," 11 Aug. 2018 The agent approached him outside the main entrance and asked him to return to the store. Staff Report,, "Norridge and Harwood Heights police reports," 13 July 2018 Surveillance footage showed Fuzzell get inside his red Mitsubishi Lancer when two suspects approached and opened the driver’s side door, the affidavit states. Becky Jacobs, Post-Tribune, "Man charged with murder in 2015 attempted robbery in Gary," 11 July 2018 These four individuals approach him with guns, force him into his apartment. Mayra Cruz, Houston Chronicle, "Police arrest suspects in alleged violent home invasion, Precinct 4 tweets," 10 July 2018 Then, at about 9:15 p.m. June 27, two people were sitting in a car when a naked man touching his genitals approached them and tried to speak to them, police said. Gabby Ferreira, sacbee, "He broke into a home naked and scared a teen — and it's not his first nude crime, Calif. cops say," 8 July 2018 Gulati says Italic has worked extensively with a legal team to make sure the startup’s approach checks out. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "Italic sells brandless luxury goods from manufactures for Celine, Prada, and Gucci.," 15 Nov. 2018 Finally, there’s the Logitech K810 wireless Bluetooth keyboard for $57.35, or about $14 off the most recent price and approaching its all-time low. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Find great PC accessories at all-time low prices in Amazon's one-day Logitech blowout sale," 6 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

These approaches offer hope to the millions at risk for Alzheimer’s and their families. Linda Marsa, Discover Magazine, "A New Treatment for Alzheimer's? It Starts With Lifestyle," 16 Nov. 2018 The idea is that not everything needs to go perfectly together, but rather, should follow a laissez-faire approach. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Bohemian Design," 19 Oct. 2018 The considerable square footage and blank-slate approach afforded a great starting point in the redesign, which was carried out by Decorist Elite Designer Stefani Stein. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "An Exclusive Look Inside Shay Mitchell’s Stunning Office Remodel," 4 Sep. 2018 Chef Phornphimon Ezinga brings influences from her traditional home cooking in Thailand to the small kitchen of Steam, and infuses it with a modern take-out-friendly approach. Kaitlyn Wylde, Vogue, "What’s So Great About Great Barrington? A Weekend Guide to the Quietly Cool Berkshire Town," 25 Oct. 2018 Consistent with the Trump administration's deregulatory approach, companies are encouraged, but not required, to file a report detailing the safety features of their self-driving cars. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Fully driverless Waymo taxis are due out this year, alarming critics," 1 Oct. 2018 With the new approach, the three patients are taking steps under their own power — intentionally moving, according to the reports published Monday by Nature Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine. Fox News, "Paralyzed patients take first steps after implant, intense rehab," 25 Sep. 2018 How to Count Your Macros Everybody is different, so a diet that focuses on macros isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. Colleen Stinchcombe, Redbook, "What Are Macros, Exactly?," 27 Aug. 2018 When asked about the influence of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon on the market, Bouvier contrasted the two companies’ approaches. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "AMD's 'Raven Ridge' APU designer points to power as its next advantage," 23 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'approach.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of approach


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for approach


Middle English approchen, from Anglo-French aprocher, from Late Latin appropiare, from Latin ad- + prope near; akin to Latin pro before — more at for


see approach entry 1

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Statistics for approach

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for approach

The first known use of approach was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for approach



English Language Learners Definition of approach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move or become near or nearer to something or someone

: to move or become near or nearer in time to something

: to get close to (an amount or level)



English Language Learners Definition of approach (Entry 2 of 2)

: a way of dealing with something : a way of doing or thinking about something

: the act of moving or becoming near or nearer to someone or something : the act of approaching : an act or occurrence in which something comes nearer

: the act of speaking to someone for some purpose (such as to ask a question or make a request)


ap·​proach | \ə-ˈprōch \
approached; approaching

Kids Definition of approach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to come near or nearer : draw close This train is approaching the station. The temperature is approaching 90 degrees.

2 : to begin to deal with approach a problem

3 : to start talking to for a specific purpose How can I approach the teacher about having cheated?



Kids Definition of approach (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of drawing near the approach of summer The cat made a cautious approach.

2 : a way of doing or thinking about something : a way of dealing with something

3 : a path or road to get to a place


ap·​proach | \ə-ˈprōch \

Medical Definition of approach 

: the surgical procedure by which access is gained to a bodily part

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More from Merriam-Webster on approach

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with approach

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for approach

Spanish Central: Translation of approach

Nglish: Translation of approach for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of approach for Arabic Speakers

Comments on approach

What made you want to look up approach? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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