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

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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

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 Unable to use an actual email address or official Google website, hackers can only opt for rough approximations. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "The Simple Email That Let Russia Hack the DNC," 13 Dec. 2016 Viva La Vida fit snugly into that old narrative of the world’s biggest band almost really going for it, working with a producer and instruments outside of their comfort zone for some approximation of Achtung Baby or Kid A or Sgt. Shawn Cooke, Billboard, "'Viva La Vida' Turns 10: How Coldplay Made the Last Massive Experimental Rock Album," 17 June 2018 Trails lead past enclosures where creatures roam in reasonable approximations of their natural habitats. Patricia Harris And David Lyon,, "Goin’ up the country: The rustic appeal of Maine’s Route 26," 21 June 2018 The prom had been decorated like a real, wild safari camp - or at least some Hollywood approximation thereof, with faux-rock walls and fake snakes and trees along the main wall. The Washington Post,, "Florida prep school apologizes for using tiger as prom prop," 14 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.

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First Known Use of approximation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2018

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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 \

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).


a nest or breeding place

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