ap·​pro·​ba·​tion ˌa-prə-ˈbā-shən How to pronounce approbation (audio)
: commendation, praise
a plan that has won the approbation of the mayor
: an act of approving formally or officially
obsolete : proof
ˈa-prə-bə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce approbation (audio)

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Approbation is similar in meaning to approval, and it is also very close to approval etymologically. Both words trace back to the Latin verb approbare, which means "to prove" or "to approve." Approbation meant "proof" when it first appeared in English in the 14th century, and by the early 1500s it had come to mean "formal or official approval," a sense it still retains in certain ecclesiastical contexts. Today, however, we mostly use approbation in the looser sense of "approval, admiration, or praise." The related verb approbate means "to approve or sanction," and the adjective approbatory means "expressing approval or commendation."

Examples of approbation in a Sentence

The company has even received the approbation of its former critics. that plan has the approbation of the school board
Recent Examples on the Web But this institutional approbation also posed a kind of creative challenge. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 18 Sep. 2023 During Barack Obama’s presidency, as Iran’s nuclear program gained speed, the U.S. and Europe piled on sanctions, sometimes with the approbation of China and Russia. Reuel Marc Gerecht,, 8 May 2023 His approbation was a thing of gold. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 19 Jan. 2022 And yet, despite the approbation, Roth wavered. David Remnick, The New Yorker, 22 Mar. 2021 Their words sparked displays of approbation and disapproval from the gallery, prompting several pleas for decorum from Chairman Raney. Arkansas Online, 2 Mar. 2023 Whatever the future holds, history will record with great approbation that for seventy years Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor relayed the cards dealt her with remarkably consistent devotion to the monarchy. Town & Country, 19 Sep. 2022 The slow embrace of the comic-book medium by elite audiences is a history with its own particular milestones, each marking a moment of sudden approbation by previously disapproving constituencies. Jeremy Dauber, The Atlantic, 27 July 2022 The doc’s history is interrupted by a quick, contrasting photo of Jay-Z — standing for rock and hip-hop commercialization that turned black musical sincerity into an obsession with narcissism, power, and political approbation. Armond White, National Review, 18 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'approbation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see approbate

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of approbation was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near approbation

Cite this Entry

“Approbation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ap·​pro·​ba·​tion ˌap-rə-ˈbā-shən How to pronounce approbation (audio)

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