prox·​i·​mate | \ˈpräk-sə-mət \

Definition of proximate 

1 : immediately preceding or following (as in a chain of events, causes, or effects) proximate, rather than ultimate, goals— Reinhold Niebuhr

2a : very near : close

b : soon forthcoming : imminent

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Other Words from proximate

proximately adverb
proximateness noun

Did You Know?

You can approach a better understanding of this word, and an approximation of its history, if you recognize its two cousins in this sentence. Proximate derives from Latin proximatus, itself the past participle of the verb proximare, meaning "to approach." The noun "approximation" and both the noun and verb "approximate" derive from "proximare" (via the Late Latin verb approximare). "Proximare," in turn, comes from "proximus" ("nearest, next") and can be traced back to the adjective prope, meaning "near." "Prope" is also an ancestor of the English verb "approach," as well as "proximity," "propinquity," and "reproach."

Examples of proximate in a Sentence

the proximate cause of the fire the proximate publication of his first novel

Recent Examples on the Web

Currently in the midst of a soft opening, South America’s newest luxury eco-lodge focuses on personalized excursions through earth’s widest waterfalls, Iguazu, and the falls’ proximate rainforest. Paul Rubio, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 8 Best Experiential Eco-Lodges in South America," 19 Jan. 2018 If the ultimate goal of North Korean denuclearization seems like a long shot, his proximate goal, according to one senior administration official, is at least to get North Korean officials to reveal their true intentions fairly quickly. Gardiner Harris,, "Pompeo arrives in North Korea to try to curb its nuclear program," 6 July 2018 The issue that animates him now is more proximate: growing indebtedness to China. Shashank Bengali,, "He brought world attention to his sinking island nation. Now he wonders if he can go back," 17 Apr. 2018 The most proximate reason is because tax preparers would like to keep it that way. John Sides, Washington Post, "Why the U.S. tax system is so complicated — but Americans are proud to pay taxes anyway," 12 Apr. 2018 Video has likewise provided the proximate trigger for many other recent social conflagrations. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The End of Reality," 8 Apr. 2018 The proximate cause this week was a brace of supply outages in Libya and Venezuela, both of which are in upheaval. The Economist, "The American president is stirring up trouble in a volatile oil market," 4 July 2018 Get our daily newsletter The proximate cause is the oil price. The Economist, "The rich world needs higher real wage growth," 30 June 2018 Not all were Debussy intimates, but each was proximate enough to feel the composer’s impact, and all but one (the conductor Arturo Toscanini ) were deeply entwined with a distinct, now extinct, Gallic musical tradition. David Mermelstein, WSJ, "‘Debussy: His First Performers’ Review: Rare Restoration," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proximate.' 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 proximate

1661, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proximate

Latin proximatus, past participle of proximare to approach, from proximus nearest, next, superlative of prope near — more at approach

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for proximate

The first known use of proximate was in 1661

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More Definitions for proximate



English Language Learners Definition of proximate

: coming or happening immediately before or after something in a way that shows a very close and direct relationship


prox·​i·​mate | \ˈpräk-sə-mət \

Medical Definition of proximate 

1a : very near

b : next, preceding, or following especially : relating to or being a proximate cause

2 : determined by proximate analysis

Other Words from proximate

proximately adverb


prox·​i·​mate | \ˈpräk-sə-mət \

Legal Definition of proximate 

1 : next immediately preceding or following (as in a chain of causation, events, or effects) : being or leading to a particular especially foreseeable result without intervention — see also proximate cause at cause sense 1

2 : very or relatively close or near would be sufficiently proximate to the commencement of the defendant's trialJohnson v. New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719 (1966)

Other Words from proximate

proximately adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on proximate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for proximate

Britannica English: Translation of proximate for Arabic Speakers

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