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 storm inundated all of those places, and temporarily trimmed lower Manhattan back to a fairly close approximation of its shoreline in the 1600s. Willa Glickman, The New York Review of Books, "New York’s Rising Tides: Climate Inequality and Sandy’s Legacy," 19 Mar. 2020 Bedell said New York’s TB control program is the best approximation for what to expect from its forthcoming COVID-19 contact tracing system. NBC News, "This doctor came out of retirement to help NYC fight pandemic," 4 June 2020 In his first formal speech out in public since the coronavirus shuttered the campaign trail in mid-March, Biden delivered perhaps his closest approximation yet of a presidential address to the nation. Katie Glueck,, "Joe Biden laces into Trump for fanning ‘flames of hate’," 2 June 2020 Everywhere, basketball fans are just trying to find some approximation of bracketmania. Jon Blau, Indianapolis Star, "Can't watch March Madness for real? Simulate your own game," 22 Mar. 2020 Unable to meet in person, friends and families gather on Zoom for digital approximations of after-work drinks, birthday parties and even funerals. The Economist, "Life imitates art Creative self-isolators are recreating famous artworks at home," 14 May 2020 But that has proven to be a limited approximation of who will bear the burden of this disease most severely. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Why Some People Get Sicker Than Others," 21 Apr. 2020 The program discovers algorithms using a loose approximation of evolution. Edd Gent, Science | AAAS, "Artificial intelligence is evolving all by itself," 13 Apr. 2020 Over the coming months, tests that can identify antibodies in the blood of people who were unwittingly exposed to the virus will allow for a closer approximation of total infections in different populations. Amy Harmon,, "Why epidemiologists still don’t know the death rate for COVID-19," 17 Apr. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for approximation

Last Updated

28 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Approximation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for approximation


How to pronounce approximation (audio)

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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