ap·​prox·​i·​mant ə-ˈpräk-sə-mənt How to pronounce approximant (audio)
plural approximants
phonetics : a speech sound that is formed by the passage of air between two articulators (such as the lips or tongue) which are close but not touching and that is usually classified as a consonant
The initial consonant in raw is also an approximant, at least for those speakers of English who do not trill or flap the r.John Clark et al., An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology, 2007
mathematics : a mathematical method or function that is used to find an approximation
While the expression n/log n is a fairly simple approximation for π(n), it is not terribly close, and mathematicians have been interested in improving it. Of course, one does this at the price of complicating the approximant.Philip J. Davis, The Mathematical Experience, 1999

Word History


approxim(ate) + -ant entry 1

First Known Use

1860, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of approximant was in 1860

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Dictionary Entries Near approximant

Cite this Entry

“Approximant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

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