ap·​prox·​i·​ma·​tion | \ ə-ˌpräk-sə-ˈmā-shən \

Definition of approximation

1 : the act or process of drawing together
2 : the quality or state of being close or near an approximation to the truth an approximation of justice
3 : something that is approximate especially : a mathematical quantity that is close in value to but not the same as a desired quantity

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from approximation

approximative \ -​ˈpräk-​sə-​ˌmā-​tiv \ adjective

Examples of approximation in a Sentence

This isn't an exact figure but I think it's a good approximation of what the land is worth. The color of the paint isn't the exact same color as the vase, but it's a close approximation.

Recent Examples on the Web

In the '90s, some electric guitar manufacturers came at the problem from the other side and added Piezos to their electrics to try and offer an approximation of an acoustic sound. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "Fender's 'Acoustasonic' Is a True Acoustic-Electric Hybrid Guitar," 22 Jan. 2019 Heisenberg was forced to make various approximations and assumptions to make any progress with his thesis problem. Lee Phillips, Ars Technica, "Turbulence, the oldest unsolved problem in physics," 10 Oct. 2018 Cost approximations, such as those used by Medicare to value a physician’s time, are a starting point for many hospitals. Melanie Evans, WSJ, "What Does Knee Surgery Cost? Few Know, and That’s a Problem," 21 Aug. 2018 Assuming most of your guests will be drinking, having a realistic approximation prevents you from spending too much on alcohol. Talia Abbas, SELF, "How to Throw a Laid-Back Holiday Party at Home, from the Team at A Summer Day Cafe," 6 Dec. 2018 Carolina might be the NFL’s closest approximation to a throwback. Will Graves, The Seattle Times, "Surging Newton, Panthers face red-hot Steelers," 7 Nov. 2018 By another measure, 2007 might be the closest approximation of what’s happening in 2018. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Get Ready for a Wild National League Finish," 1 Aug. 2018 The camera didn't capture any definitive images, but the amateur sleuths had something to work with: a rough approximation of what time of day the public defilement occurred. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "A corporate executive led a secret double life — as Australia’s ‘poo jogger’," 7 June 2018 Make a rough approximation of the mass of the spacecraft and the rocket equation to estimate the total mass of fuel in the rocket along with the exhaust speed. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "How Fast Do Spacecraft Travel in The Expanse?," 31 May 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about approximation

Share approximation

Statistics for approximation

Last Updated

1 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for approximation

The first known use of approximation was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for approximation



English Language Learners Definition of approximation

: an amount, figure, etc., that is almost correct and is not intended to be exact : an approximate amount, figure, etc.
: something that is similar to something else


ap·​prox·​i·​ma·​tion | \ ə-ˌpräk-sə-ˈmā-shən \

Kids Definition of approximation

1 : an estimate or figure that is not intended to be exact
2 : an act or the result of coming near or close The color isn't exactly the same, but it's a close approximation.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on approximation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with approximation

Spanish Central: Translation of approximation

Nglish: Translation of approximation for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about approximation

Comments on approximation

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


excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

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!