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From Middle English approchen, aprochen, borrowed from Old French aprochier, from Late Latin appropiō, from Latin ad + propiō (I draw near), from prope (near). Compare modern French approcher (verb) and French approche (noun).



approach (third-person singular simple present approaches, present participle approaching, simple past and past participle approached)

  1. (intransitive) To come or go near, in place or time; to draw nigh; to advance nearer.
    • 1769, Oxford Standard text, King James Bible, 2 Samuel, xi, 20,
      And if so be that the king's wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall?
    • 1769, Oxford Standard text, King James Bible, Hebrews, x, 25,
      Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
  2. (intransitive, figurative) To draw near, in a figurative sense; to make advances; to approximate.
    as he approaches to the character of the ablest statesman.
    • 1839, Samuel Laing, A Tour in Sweden in 1838, page 371,
      Without these incentives to industry the Norwegian would be like the Laplander, without industry and civilisation ; and the nearer he approaches to the beau idéal of those political economists — to the state of being without a taste for these foreign and expensive luxuries — the nearer he approaches to the condition of the Laplander in the comforts and enjoyments of life.
    • 1898, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The Works, Volume 11, 2006, Elibron Classics Replica Edition, page 205,
      In this respect, the only books which approach to its excellence are Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe.
  3. (transitive) To come near to in place, time, character, or value; to draw nearer to.
    "Would counsel please approach the bench?" asked the judge.
    He approached the age of manhood.
    • 1690, Sir William Temple, Of Ancient and Modern Learning
      He was an admirable poet, and thought even to have approached Homer.
    • 1831, John James Audubon, Ornithological Biography, Volume 1, The American Redstart,
      When one approaches the nest of this species, the male exhibits the greatest anxiety respecting its safety, passes and repasses, fluttering and snapping its bill within a few feet, as if determined to repel the intruder.
    • 1867, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Chapter 53: And Last,
      Removing with him and the old housekeeper to within a mile of the parsonage-house, where his dear friends resided, he gratified the only remaining wish of Oliver's warm and earnest heart, and thus linked together a little society, whose condition approached as nearly to one of perfect happiness as can ever be known in this changing world.
    • 1898, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, Book 1, Chapter 1: The Eve of the War,
      Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely approaches that of our coldest winter.
    • 1911 [1904], William Anthony Granville, Elements of the Differential and Integral Calculus, Chapter III,
      If a variable takes on successively a series of values that approach nearer and nearer to a constant value in such a manner that [To be read the numerical value of the difference between and ] becomes and remains less than any assigned arbitrarily small positive quantity, then is said to approach the limit , or to converge to the limit . Symbolically this is written
      limit , or, .
      Usage note: In discussing convergence in mathematical analysis, modern rigorous formulations avoid using the terms approach and converge. These terms may, however, serve as a form of handwave when rigour is not required.
  4. To make an attempt at (solving a problem or making a policy).
  5. To speak to, as to make a request or ask a question.
    • 1988 Dinesh Vaghela, Publisher's Note, in U. G. Krishnamurti, Terry Newland (editor), Mind is a Myth, Dinesh Publications, [1],
      "Why bother publishing my conversations. It has not helped you, and it is not going to help anybody else", said U.G. when I approached him with the idea of publishing excerpts from his conversations with the constant stream of people who go to visit him.
  6. (transitive, military) To take approaches to.
  7. To bring near; to cause to draw near.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Boyle to this entry?)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


approach (plural approaches)

  1. The act of drawing near; a coming or advancing near.
    • 1811, Samuel Horsley, Sermons, Volume 1, page 10,
      The approach of summer, says our Lord, is not more surely indicated by the first appearances of spring, than the final destruction of the wicked by the beginnings of vengeance on this impenitent people.
    • 1859, Richard Owen, On the Classification and Geographical Distribution of the Mammalia, page 85,
      The canine, judging from the figures published by M. Lartet1 seems to be less developed than in the male chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans[,] [i]n which character the fossil, if it belonged to a male, makes a nearer approach to the human type ; but it is one which many of the inferior monkeys also exhibit, and is by no means to be trusted as significant of true affinity, supposing even the sex of the fossil to be known as being male.
  2. An access, or opportunity of drawing near.
    • 1625 (date from Markby), Francis Bacon, Of Ambition, reprinted in 1856, Thomas Markby (editor), The Essays; or, Counsels Civil and Moral with A table of the Colours of Good and Evil, page 84,
      Honor hath three things in it: the vantage ground to do good; the approach to kings and principal persons; and the raising of a man's own fortunes.
  3. (in the plural) Movements to gain favor; advances.
  4. A way, passage, or avenue by which a place or buildings can be approached; an access.
    • 1900, Alfred Thayer Mahan, Story of the War in South Africa 1899-1900,
      It was, therefore, natural to expect that the main attack would come from the north along the railroad, and from the east, where the approach from the Transvaal boundary, which is there marked by the Buffalo River, is over a country much more practicable than the western mountain range.
  5. A manner in which a problem is solved or policy is made.
    • 1787, Federal Convention of 1787, Constitution of the United States of America, Annotations to Article 1, Section 1,
      The functional approach emphasizes the core functions of each branch and asks whether the challenged action threatens the essential attributes of the legislative, executive, or judicial function or functions. Under this approach, there is considerable flexibility in the moving branch, usually Congress acting to make structural or institutional change, if there is little significant risk of impairment of a core function or in the case of such a risk if there is a compelling reason for the action.
    • 1980, Federal Communications Commission, Second Computer Inquiry, Final Decision, IV: Comments,
      Our proposed definitional approach to the data processing-communications dilemma evoked considerable discussion.
    • 1980, J. Skelly Wright, United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, Lead Industries Association v. EPA, Opinion of the Court,
      Its [the EPA's] initial approach to controlling the amount of lead in the ambient air was to limit lead emissions from automobiles by restricting the amount of lead in gasoline.
    • 1991, Carol Lee Johnston, Jeanne Lazaris, Plane Trigonometry, A New Approach.
  6. (used only in the plural, fortification) The advanced works, trenches, or covered roads made by besiegers in their advances toward a fortress or military post.
  7. (golf, tennis) An approach shot.
  8. The way an aircraft comes in to land at an airport.
    • 2007, Federal Aviation Administration, Glider Flying Handbook, page 2-9,
      Most small airplanes maintain a speed well in excess of 1.3 times VSO on an instrument approach. An airplane with a stall speed of 50 knots (VSO) has a normal approach speed of 65 knots.
  9. (bowling) The area before the lane, in which a player may stand or run up before bowling the ball.





approach m (plural approaches)

  1. approach (a manner in which a problem is solved or policy is made)