prox·​i·​mate | \ ˈpräk-sə-mət How to pronounce proximate (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Any civil lawsuits to come may have judges looking at who had duties to others, who breached those duties by failing to take reasonable measures, what harm ensued and what were the proximate causes of those injuries. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Docket: When Can It Be Negligent to Film a Health Tragedy?," 13 Mar. 2020 Plus, the conference features more proximate schools and more of UConn’s traditional rivals (most notably Georgetown, Providence, Villanova and St. John’s), which could help in recruiting. Alex Putterman,, "Awkward good-byes? UConn men’s and women’s hoops teams embark on AAC farewell tour," 6 Nov. 2019 The proximate causes of the tragedy were choices various local actors made — or, in most cases, did not make. Jack Butler, National Review, "Two Years Later, Don’t Misplace Blame for Parkland," 14 Feb. 2020 Far from being a proximate cause of military conflict, the dollar’s central global role has often been used to contain adversaries without military intervention. Joshua Zoffer, The New Republic, "To End Forever War, Keep the Dollar Globally Dominant," 3 Feb. 2020 The proximate cause of the slump, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, traces back to the Great Recession, when farmers cut back on plantings amid sluggish sales. Washington Post, "Boomers have outgrown real Christmas trees," 5 Dec. 2019 The overthrow of the Saddam regime in Iraq, which opened the door to Iran’s influence there, is at the root of the current crisis, but its proximate origins lie in the US withdrawal from Iraq that was initiated by President George W. Bush. Steven Simon, The New York Review of Books, "The Middle East: Trump Blunders In," 16 Jan. 2020 Waging open-ended war in the Middle East serves chiefly to perpetuate anti-American terrorism, which in any event does not pose a proximate threat to vital U.S. national security interests. Andrew Bacevich, Twin Cities, "Andrew Bacevich: Why President Trump can’t end ‘endless wars’," 13 Dec. 2019 The system is aware of all airports bypassed on a flight as well as those immediately proximate. Eric Tegler, Ars Technica, "This system from Garmin can land a private plane when your pilot can’t," 13 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about proximate

Time Traveler for proximate

Time Traveler

The first known use of proximate was in 1661

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about proximate

Statistics for proximate

Last Updated

28 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proximate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for proximate


How to pronounce proximate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of proximate

formal : 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 How to pronounce proximate (audio) \

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 How to pronounce proximate (audio) \

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

Comments on proximate

What made you want to look up proximate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!