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

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The department said an officer was at the dollar store on an unrelated shoplifting call when store employees told him about another shoplifting complaint and directed him toward a vehicle that was leaving the parking lot as the officer approached. Fox News, "Arizona couple files $10M lawsuit after cops allegedly pull guns on family after 4-year-old steals doll," 17 June 2019 So the way to approach these monumental problems is in pockets of conversation. New York Times, "Harassment, Equality, Power: What Leaders Said at the New Rules Summit," 17 June 2019 Under a health watch, the level of an air pollutant is expected to approach the federal health standard. Mike Cruz, azcentral, "Maricopa County health watch for air quality on tap for Sunday," 15 June 2019 In a foundational scene of monotheism, Moses doffs his kicks to approach the burning bush; shoes are, by their pedestrian nature, unfit for holy ground. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "The Normcore Opulence of Preachers Wearing Four-Figure Sneakers," 14 June 2019 If conditions are dangerous, do not attempt to approach the animal. · DO stay with the animal until rescuers arrive, but use caution. Mark Schleifstein,, "Stranding of 261 dolphins, possibly linked to high Mississippi River, declared ‘unusual mortality event’," 14 June 2019 During the first day, the board grappled with how to approach the clean cars rollback and, in particular, the role California plays. Maxine Joselow, Scientific American, "EPA’s Science Advisory Board to Scrutinize Clean Car Rollback," 12 June 2019 Look for Benjamin to approach or pass 2,000 yards in total offense in 2019. 6. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "The 10 best college football running backs for the 2019 season," 11 June 2019 With Smith’s spot in the rotation not due until Tuesday, Miami has four days to decide how to approach that start. Wells Dusenbury,, "Caleb Smith heading to the IL; Marlins MLB draft draws strong reviews," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And now the president and his supporters MUST take the same approach with Fox News, as the network is equally guilty of reporting polling data that makes the president look bad. Rex Huppke,, "Even Fox News is reporting bad polling numbers for Trump — so they must be fake!," 17 June 2019 Dorsey said improved communication between developers and schools would be a better approach., "How legislation addressing growth impact on schools collapsed in Baldwin County," 16 June 2019 Other celebrities this week followed Rihanna’s more-is-more approach. Vogue, "The Best Fashion Instagrams of the Week: Rihanna, Chloë Sevigny, and More," 15 June 2019 Even from a liberal perspective, is that really the best approach? Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Mayor Pete’s Foreign Policy: One Good Idea and Lots of Bad Ones," 13 June 2019 Delaware, West Virginia and Nebraska have issued subpoenas, which is a less assertive approach, making a legal request for the records. Juliet Linderman, Fox News, "Bishops meeting on sex abuse clouded by state investigations," 11 June 2019 Segal takes the same choral approach but changes the tragedy. Madeleine Schwartz, Harper's magazine, "Warm, Weird, Effervescent," 10 June 2019 After the Obama administration encouraged states to adopt Common Core education standards, Republican leaders who had previously supported the same approach faced a tea party backlash as conservatives critics tied the policy to the president. NBC News, "Unchartered territory: 2020 Democrats back away from charter schools," 9 June 2019 The city has used that same approach for some of its golf courses. Robert Higgs,, "Cleveland strategy for curbing illegal dirt bike riders involves series of summer events, developing professional-grade track," 5 June 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.

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

Statistics for approach

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for approach

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

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!