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 was the intense internal debate about negotiations with the Taliban, strenuously opposed by Bolton. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 12 Sep. 2019 But [these technologies] are only proximate causes. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Is Big Tech addictive? A debate with Nir Eyal.," 7 Aug. 2019 The protests are the result of long simmering frustration While the recent scandals mark the proximate cause of the protests roiling Puerto Rico, residents of the island have faced other frustrations in recent years. Zeeshan Aleem, Vox, "Puerto Rico’s week of massive protests, explained," 20 July 2019 The proximate cause is growing fear of conflict with Iran. The Economist, "The UAE begins pulling out of Yemen," 4 July 2019 The student protesters were only the proximate cause of Oberlin’s problem. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Oberlin’s $44 Million Mistake," 26 June 2019 Insofar as identity politics helped elect Donald Trump, electoral colleges seem a more proximate cause than debates over gender-neutral bathrooms. Sarah Churchwell, The New York Review of Books, "America’s Original Identity Politics," 7 Feb. 2019 Tablets, despite being proximate to both phones and laptops, are unique. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Google keeps failing to understand tablets," 29 Nov. 2018 But the metro-accessible, downtown-DC-proximate, and relatively dense Crystal City won out. Alex Baca, Vox, "I work in urban planning. Now Amazon’s coming to my city.," 20 Nov. 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

27 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for proximate

The first known use of proximate was in 1661

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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

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to speed up the process or progress of

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