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 \ ə-​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

The Center for Public Integrity database allows for a rough approximation, thanks to their efforts to identify individual donors by their names and zip codes That effort is still imperfect. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "Here's how much money Democratic presidential hopefuls have raised so far in Texas to beat Trump," 8 Aug. 2019 Data is an imperfect approximation of some aspect of the world at a certain time and place. Andrea Jones-rooy, Quartz, "I’m a data scientist who is skeptical about data," 24 July 2019 We've been given rough approximations of where this facility will be. Ryan Gillespie,, "Democrats blast Trump plan to detain 500 migrant children in Central Florida," 26 Aug. 2019 The filmmaking, with its fidgety editing and wobbly handheld camerawork, often suggests a self-conscious approximation of gritty intensity rather than the real thing. Los Angeles Times, "Review: A grim fairy tale, ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’ peers at war through a child’s eyes," 21 Aug. 2019 Dirichlet’s discovery was, in a sense, a narrow statement about rational approximation. Quanta Magazine, "New Proof Settles How to Approximate Numbers Like Pi," 14 Aug. 2019 Here, the visuals sell the lyrics by modeling the courtship of real-life lions with a few playful, Disney-like flourishes—but nothing as weird as a real-life approximation of, say, the Lady & the Tramp kiss. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Lion King remake review: Roaring visuals, but the execution is a hairball," 12 July 2019 Geologists thought the fields would make a pretty good approximation of the moon’s surface, so explosives were used in 1967 to convert the area into a replica of the Apollo landing areas. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "These Arizona places were critical to the Apollo 11 moon landing. Here's what you should see.," 28 June 2019 That will at least give me a rough approximation for my analysis. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "That Viral 'Gyro Drop' Ride Was Fake. Here's How You Can Tell," 27 June 2019

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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Statistics for approximation

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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