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.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for approach

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of approach in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While making a stop at a different gas station, Arenas said he was approached by a man asking for spare change. Fox News, "Ex-NBA star says he won $300G in California lotto after 'good-hearted gesture' from homeless man," 19 May 2020 Nicolai attempted to shoot when he was approached by an officer, troopers said. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, "Kwethluk 19-year-old broke into public safety building, staged rifles and fired at officer, troopers say," 18 May 2020 Hillary is an unmarried law professor at Northwestern University; after the Anita Hill hearings, she is approached about running for the U.S. Senate. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Yorker, "Curtis Sittenfeld’s “Rodham” Offers the Catharsis of Uncomplicated Regret," 17 May 2020 No one from the local was able to comment Friday, and neither could several workers approached by a reporter at the Kroger in Grosse Pointe, where one of their coworkers was reported to have died of the virus. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Kroger, other chains to end 'heroes pay' for frontline retail workers," 15 May 2020 The victim was fatally shot after being approached by the two men on the sidewalk near his home in Flushing, Queens. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Ten suspected MS-13 gang members charged in murder, crime plots in New York," 15 May 2020 Upon arrival, the officer was confronted and approached by a man armed with a knife., "Officer shot, killed man who refused to put down knife, Union Township police say," 15 May 2020 After their engagement photos went viral, the couple was approached by the Tamron Hall Show for a rare opportunity. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "ESSENCE Staffer Aisha Becker-Burrowes Got Married Virtually On 'Tamron Hall Show'," 14 May 2020 Officers patrolling in the Roxbury area early Monday were approached by a person who said an animal may have escaped from the zoo. Allen Kim, CNN, "Cop uses mating call on his phone to lure back zoo's escaped peacock," 12 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This is a bewildering approach to a public health disaster, to say the least. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Donald Trump’s Never-Ending War on Numbers," 20 May 2020 This struck me as curious, because these are nearly opposite approaches. Jim Salter, Ars Technica, "Linux distro review: Fedora Workstation 32," 19 May 2020 The organization also had to cancel all of its in-person workshops and training sessions, which has caused HEC to reconsider its approach to programming. Sarah Bowman, Indianapolis Star, "Environmental groups struggle to maintain funding, momentum as COVID-19 pandemic continues," 18 May 2020 That is probably a more prudent approach setting up expectations. Matthew Vantryon, The Indianapolis Star, "Key differences between Indiana and Indianapolis' reopening plans," 15 May 2020 This is the approach that countries such as Germany and Italy are choosing. David Meyer, Fortune, "Europe’s plan to save the sacred summer vacation depends on contact-tracing apps—but there’s a problem," 13 May 2020 This is an approach that people have tried for other outbreaks. John Lauerman,, "Stay Home During the ‘Crisis of Our Generation’: Coronavirus Q&A," 13 May 2020 But an opposition movement of residents and local officials, concerned about losing control over how their communities develop, has pointed to the pandemic as evidence that proposals like SB50 and its successors are the wrong approach. Alexei Koseff,, "‘Whole new crisis’: California lawmakers wrestle with coronavirus on top of housing shortages," 9 May 2020 This was a reasonable, practical approach to a complicated legal situation: temporarily set aside the applications that cite COVID-19 as the reason for mail-in voting, while accepting all disability claims. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: Counties get mixed signals on mail-in voting," 2 May 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about approach

Time Traveler for approach

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for approach

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Approach.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for approach


How to pronounce approach (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!