prox·​im·​i·​ty | \ präk-ˈsi-mə-tē How to pronounce proximity (audio) \

Definition of proximity

: the quality or state of being proximate : closeness

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The history of "proximity" hinges on the idea of closeness, both physical and metaphorical. English speakers borrowed the word from Middle French, which in turn acquired it from Latin proximitat-, proximitas, forms of the adjective proximus, meaning "nearest" or "next." A number of other languages, including Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian, derived similar words from Latin proximus. Other descendants of "proximus" in English include "proximal," "proximate," and the somewhat more rare "approximal" (meaning "contiguous").

Examples of proximity in a Sentence

the proximity of the curtains to the fireplace was a cause of concern for the safety inspector
Recent Examples on the Web The luxury residence is located at 6814 Northport in Dallas’ Preston Hollow community, where residents enjoy close proximity to schools and a plethora of stores at Preston Royal, Preston Center and NorthPark Center shopping centers. Dallas News, "Canterbury Custom Homes holds open new luxury design in Preston Hollow on June 28," 28 June 2020 Social distancing becomes more challenging indoors, where areas such as packing and inspection lines traditionally have people working in close proximity. Lee A. Dean, The Christian Science Monitor, "For migrant farmworkers, coronavirus adds new burdens," 26 June 2020 But workers at the Foster Road center say it’s impossible to remain 6 feet apart because some tasks, with orders moving at a fast pace, require employees to work in close proximity. Madison Iszler,, "Amazon workers in San Antonio worry as COVID-19 cases rise," 25 June 2020 In his video, Nitty can be seen trying to deescalate things as the crowd jawed at police in close proximity. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's what we know about the chaos that unfolded Tuesday near a Washington Park home," 25 June 2020 This deprivation of touch and physical proximity to others is unhealthy in the short term. David Zweig, Wired, "It’s Ridiculous to Treat Schools Like Covid Hot Zones," 24 June 2020 The history of cinema, the quest for artistic proximity, has long been thwarted or stifled by the spectacular element, the flexing that theatrical releases favor. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Do Movies Still Need Multiplexes?," 24 June 2020 People of color often live closer to factories and other major sources of pollution and experience the negative health consequences that proximity entails, Butler said. J.d. Morris,, "Climate activism, racial justice intersect in Bay Area protests," 24 June 2020 Firefighters are also equipped with face masks for work that requires being in close proximity. USA TODAY, "Shah Bar, infected ‘Idol,’ famed mall to close: News from around our 50 states," 24 June 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for proximity

Middle French proximité, from Latin proximitat-, proximitas, from proximus

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Time Traveler for proximity

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The first known use of proximity was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Proximity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for proximity


How to pronounce proximity (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of proximity

: the state of being near


prox·​im·​i·​ty | \ präk-ˈsi-mə-tē How to pronounce proximity (audio) \

Legal Definition of proximity

: the quality or state of being proximate

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