Definition of proximate
- proximate, rather than ultimate, goals
- —Reinhold Niebuhr
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the proximate cause of the fire
the proximate publication of his first novel
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.
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."
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