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

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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 The proximate cause of the unrest being police violence and the underlying issues that have fueled the protests, which are continued racial equality and discrimination and socioeconomic exclusion, are really at the heart of both. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "Trump Declared Himself the 'President of Law and Order.' Here's What People Get Wrong About the Origins of That Idea," 2 June 2020 The proximate cause was the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed, handcuffed African-American man, by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Bryan Stevenson on the Frustration Behind the George Floyd Protests," 1 June 2020 Of course, the proximate cause of the protests this time is the coronavirus lockdowns rather than Obamacare, although the feel of the demonstrations — expressing populist anger at government overreach — is the ... Madeleine Kearns, National Review, "Lovely and Savage: Muriel Spark’s ‘Girls of Slender Means’," 25 Apr. 2020 The proximate cause of these firms’ miseries is familiar to anyone who’s not been comatose for the past two months: the coronavirus pandemic and its concomitant impact on the economy. Robin Kaiser-schatzlein, The New Republic, "The “Shadow Banks” Are Back, and Still Too Big to Fail," 27 Apr. 2020 The proximate cause of the shutdown was a government order that banned the use of the premises, which Bidart says is covered by the policy. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Did coronavirus — or the state — close Musso & Frank? Big money hangs in the balance," 24 Apr. 2020 Such emergency measures of mercy and duty can help address the proximate reason Jones died. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "When a prisoner dies of coronavirus, is the virus really to blame?," 2 Apr. 2020 Taiwan’s rapid mobilization contrasts starkly with South Korea and Japan, which are also proximate to China and enjoy advanced healthcare systems. Time, "What We Can Learn From Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong About Handling Coronavirus," 13 Mar. 2020 Other lidars at four other spots on these Jags focus on objects that are more proximate to the cars. Rob Verger, Popular Science, "Waymo’s new self-driving cars are electric Jaguars loaded with sensors and cameras," 5 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for proximate

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The first known use of proximate was in 1661

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Cite this Entry

“Proximate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for proximate



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

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