ap·​prox·​i·​ma·​tion | \ ə-ˌpräk-sə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce approximation (audio) \

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

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Other Words from approximation

approximative \ -​ˈpräk-​sə-​ˌmā-​tiv How to pronounce approximative (audio) \ 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

First, make an approximation of your mowing surface. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The Lawn Mower Buyer's Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Buy the Right Mower," 22 Feb. 2019 Isn't this a poor approximation to the actual area of a circle (half-circle)? Rhett Allain, WIRED, "This Pi Day, Calculate the Value of Pi for Yourself," 14 Mar. 2018 However, going from a theoretical framework to actual predictions is a process that is fraught; assumptions and approximations have to be made. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Quark-gluon plasma reveals viscosity-free properties," 19 Dec. 2018 The better way is to be Isaiah Berlin’s versatile fox, not a single-minded obsessed hedgehog, or to embrace Machiavelli’s virtues of imitation, adaptation and approximation. Victor Davis Hanson, New York Times, "When to Wage War, and How to Win: A Guide," 20 Apr. 2018 At first approximation, there is only one force acting on the space station—the gravitational pull from the Earth. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "You Can Model China’s Tiangong-1 Space Station Crash," 29 Mar. 2018 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

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.

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First Known Use of approximation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for approximation

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

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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 How to pronounce approximation (audio) \

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.

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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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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