ap·​proach | \ ə-ˈprōch How to pronounce approach (audio) \
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

Riders should use caution when using the crossing, remember to look both ways, and only cross when no trains are approaching., "Portland metro Monday traffic: Serious injury crash closes SE Division at 111th Avenue," 12 Aug. 2019 When a fire is approaching, the sprinklers intermittently spray water plus a foam solution on the structure and a 50-foot perimeter to prevent embers from spreading. Kathleen Pender,, "To keep insurance, some homeowners now have to do costly wildfire mitigation," 10 Aug. 2019 When officers approached, the man dropped three watches behind his back. Bruce Geiselman,, "Trespassing suspect found with 3 watches: North Olmsted Police Blotter," 10 Aug. 2019 The 44-year-old Walmart manager had been in the parking lot of his store when a gunman approached. Los Angeles Times, "El Paso Walmart manager, who helped customers survive and employees cope, finds solace in baseball," 9 Aug. 2019 Beard’s father would not comment when CNN approached to ask about his son. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Video shows Dayton gunman in bar hours before mass shooting," 7 Aug. 2019 The grandparents had just parked their car when the gunman approached, relatives told KTSM. Chris Harris,, "Heroes, Grandparents and Role Models: Remembering the Victims of the El Paso Mass Shooting," 5 Aug. 2019 Marine life suffocates without oxygen When water approaches two parts per million or less of oxygen—considered low-oxygen conditions—anything mobile, like crabs, snails, and fish, will try to move away. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Dead zones, explained," 31 July 2019 Police found Clark on the ground next to a sport-utility vehicle, and when an officer approached, Clark immediately began to stab himself in the neck, police have said. Phil Helsel, NBC News, "Man accused of killing Instagram personality, posting photos of body online pleads not guilty," 30 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Devotees of Newport's approach view it differently. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Why quitting tech and social media is harder than quitting cigarettes," 12 Aug. 2019 Marco Silva had previously made a number of approaches for Wilfried Zaha this summer, but refocused his attentions onto Nigeria international Iwobi after being rebuffed by Palace on multiple occasions., "Marcos Rojo Left 'Fuming' as Everton Loan Collapsed After Man Utd Changed Details of Move," 9 Aug. 2019 Tesla’s aggressive stance flies in the face of the go-slower approach of all other major companies. Russ Mitchellstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Tesla has a huge incentive to deploy self-driving tech. But is the world ready?," 9 Aug. 2019 Neither of these approaches, however, actually gets rid of the core problem, which is violence itself. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, "Dr. Sanjay Gupta: The epidemic of gun violence is treatable," 6 Aug. 2019 Critics of the bans, meanwhile, have argued in favor of a voluntary approach to the use of straws., "Plastic straw ban heading to Florida Legislature again," 4 Aug. 2019 But the show’s over-reliance on sentimentality and the thinness of some of the characters are distinct weaknesses of Davies’s approach. Emily Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "HBO’s Years and Years immerses us in our soon-to-be dystopia. Until it chickens out.," 4 Aug. 2019 Competing for viewers: Though the streaming giant, Netflix, didn’t present any panels or executive sessions, there was plenty of talk about why viewers should watch fill-in-the-blank, instead of the throw-everything-at-the-wall Netflix approach., "Searching for the next ‘Game of Thrones,’ comparing past and present politics, and more: TV press tour," 1 Aug. 2019 These sober houses are an essential element of the most popular approach to treating people who suffer from opioid abuse disorder. Steve Hamm,, "675M pills: Prescription opioids targeted Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens," 1 Aug. 2019

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

Verb and Noun

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

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Statistics for approach

Last Updated

15 Aug 2019

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 How to pronounce approach (audio) \
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 How to pronounce approach (audio) \

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

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