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 approximation (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 Global population estimates indicate there are at least 200,000 birds, but that number is a rough approximation, as bird counts in many of these far-flung habitats are rare or nonexistent. Melody Bentz, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 July 2021 Another approximation scheme tries to sneak up on a full-fledged quantum field theory by other means. Kevin Hartnett, Wired, 20 June 2021 Another approximation scheme tries to sneak up on a full-fledged quantum field theory by other means. Quanta Magazine, 10 June 2021 Let’s use an approximation that an average car length is about 15 feet. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 21 June 2021 That Berlin, among the only Warholites who managed to live into old age, found such loyalty and frisson again might have made the artist happy — or some Warhol-like approximation of that mundane emotion. New York Times, 18 June 2021 Total continuing claims, which gives a good approximation of the number of people receiving benefits, fell to 18.2 million in the week ended Feb. 27 from 20.1 million a week earlier. Sarah Chaney Cambon, WSJ, 18 Mar. 2021 My best approximation of the flavor is that of the raisins from bottom-shelf, vegan, low-calorie rum-raisin ice cream. Rachel Gutman, The Atlantic, 9 June 2021 All Lightnings will come with all-wheel drive and a crew cab, so by our approximation the most equivalent gasoline model is the 2021 F-150 XL SuperCrew 4WD with a short bed, which costs $41,855. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, 20 May 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near approximation



approximation theory

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Statistics for approximation

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Approximation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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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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