ap·​prox·​i·​ma·​tion ə-ˌpräk-sə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce approximation (audio)
: the act or process of drawing together
: the quality or state of being close or near
an approximation to the truth
an approximation of justice
: something that is approximate
especially : a mathematical quantity that is close in value to but not the same as a desired quantity
approximative 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 But these are approximations based on a full flying schedule, Trautman noted. Vinod Sreeharsha, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 Unemployment remains below 4 percent, which used to be considered an approximation for full employment. The Editors, National Review, 14 Feb. 2024 To a first approximation, the federal government is a system that collects taxes from working-age adults and spends much of the proceeds on programs that help seniors, such as Medicare and Social Security. Paul Krugman, The Mercury News, 8 Feb. 2024 Thirteen months and $14 million in investments later, it has been restored to a close approximation of its original condition. Jonathan Pitts, Baltimore Sun, 5 Feb. 2024 During her testimony Wednesday, Mosby explained away the discrepancy as a matter of approximation. Jasmine Hilton, Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2024 So the sequence of exceptionally good approximations goes on forever. Quanta Magazine, 13 Dec. 2023 But these quasi-rough stylistic tropes tend to underline what the feature never quite achieves: approximation of the messy exuberance that made punk attractive in the first place. Dennis Harvey, Variety, 25 Jan. 2024 Implementing such algorithms on digital computers invariably involves approximation, but theoretical analysis of their limitations is plagued by subtleties stemming from those approximations. Ben Brubaker, Quanta Magazine, 3 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near approximation

Cite this Entry

“Approximation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ap·​prox·​i·​ma·​tion ə-ˌpräk-sə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce approximation (audio)
: a coming near or close (as in value)
: something approximate
especially : an estimate or figure that is almost exact
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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