ap·​pro·​ba·​tion | \ ˌa-prə-ˈbā-shən How to pronounce approbation (audio) \

Definition of approbation

1a : commendation, praise a plan that has won the approbation of the mayor
b : an act of approving formally or officially
2 obsolete : proof

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Other Words from approbation

approbatory \ ˈa-​prə-​bə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce approbatory (audio) , ə-​ˈprō-​bə-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for approbation


approval, blessing, favor, imprimatur, OK (or okay)


disapprobation, disapproval, disfavor

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Did You Know?

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 Levinson bested Waters through middle-class approbation, not through talent. Armond White, National Review, "The Baltimore Culture Wars: A History," 31 July 2019 Within a rhetoric of universal approbation, every writer turns craven; all talent withers. Hermione Hoby, The New Yorker, "What Does It Mean to Be a “Real” Writer?," 3 July 2019 However, his talent soon garnered him the approbation of his peers. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "“Balenciaga and Spanish Painting” Opens at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid," 21 June 2019 As Churchland admits, a system based on the glow of social approbation and affection versus the shame and pain of their inverse is vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. Lidija Haas, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 10 June 2019 His comedy, by its very nature, doesn’t find, or even seek, universal approbation. Soumya Rao, Quartz India, "Russell Peters on stereotypes, politics, and religion in his comedy," 3 June 2019 Unexpectedly, for a modern American political debate, Kasky didn’t look pleased at this show of public approbation. Eve Fairbanks, The New Republic, "Buying In: How the Language of the Market Has Warped American Politics," 9 Mar. 2018 While overall support remains strong for these space vehicles, delays in their development may have begun to break the almost uniform congressional approbation for these exploration programs. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Some in Congress start to question ongoing SLS rocket delays," 9 Nov. 2017 But the right to speak is not the right to public approbation. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Kaepernick’s Collusion Claim Is a Likely Loser," 18 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'approbation.' 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 approbation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for approbation

see approbate

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Statistics for approbation

Last Updated

5 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for approbation

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

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More Definitions for approbation



English Language Learners Definition of approbation

formal : praise or approval

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More from Merriam-Webster on approbation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with approbation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for approbation

Spanish Central: Translation of approbation

Nglish: Translation of approbation for Spanish Speakers

Comments on approbation

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


concealment of treason or felony

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