pro·​pin·​qui·​ty prə-ˈpiŋ-kwə-tē How to pronounce propinquity (audio)
: nearness of blood : kinship
: nearness in place or time : proximity

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Getting Closer to the Meaning of Propinquity

Propinquity and its cousin "proximity" are related through the Latin root prope, which means "near." That root gave rise to "proximus" (the parent of "proximity") and "propinquus" (an ancestor of "propinquity"). "Proximus" is the superlative of "prope" and thus means "nearest," whereas "propinquus" simply means "near" or "akin," but in English "propinquity" conveys a stronger sense of closeness than "proximity." (The latter usually suggests a sense of being in the vicinity of something.) The distinctions between the two words are subtle, however, and they are often used interchangeably. "Propinquity" is believed to be the older of the two words, first appearing in English in the 14th century; "proximity" followed a century later.

Example Sentences

local housing prices, thanks to the propinquity of an especially picturesque beach, are out of the reach of many would-be buyers
Recent Examples on the Web The ragged labor agitator becomes the shop steward, then the union boss, and the propinquity of the bargaining table supplies the fellow with new best friends. David Mamet, National Review, 31 Mar. 2022 For such profound propinquity, move from the free-flowing oceans to the more structured world of soil, where potential self-sacrificers can nestle next to each other. The Economist, 20 Aug. 2020 Being a young creator of any kind is all about cheap rent and propinquity. Mary Kaye Schilling, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2017 Now, a small New Jersey township is bracing for its own looming propinquity to the president. Emily Jane Fox, The Hive, 19 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'propinquity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English propinquite, from Latin propinquitat-, propinquitas kinship, proximity, from propinquus near, akin, from prope near — more at approach

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of propinquity was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near propinquity

Cite this Entry

“Propinquity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

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