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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English aproven, appreoven, appreven, apreven, borrowed from Old French aprover, approver, approuvir, appreuver (to approve), from Latin approbō, from ad + probō (to esteem as good, approve, prove). Doublet of approbate. Compare prove.


approve (third-person singular simple present approves, present participle approving, simple past and past participle approved)

  1. (transitive) To officially sanction; to ratify; to confirm; to set as satisfactory.
    • 2013 August 10, “Can China clean up fast enough?”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      It has jailed environmental activists and is planning to limit the power of judicial oversight by handing a state-approved body a monopoly over bringing environmental lawsuits.
    Although we may disagree with it, we must nevertheless approve the sentence handed down by the court-martial.
  2. (transitive) To regard as good; to commend; to be pleased with; to think well of.
    We approve the measure of the administration, for it is an excellent decision.
  3. (transitive, archaic) To make proof of; to demonstrate; to prove or show practically.
  4. (intransitive, followed by "of") To consider worthy (to); to be pleased (with); to accept.
    Her mother never approves of any of her boyfriends. She thinks nobody is good enough for her little girl.
    • 2016, Mitski, Your Best American Girl:
      Your mother wouldn't approve of how my mother raised me. But I do, I think I do. And you're an all-American boy
    • 1995, The Verve, A Northern Soul:
      Dad didn't approve of me, do you? I'm alive with something inside of me.
    • 1848, Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession Of James II:
      They had not approved of the deposition of James.
    • 1758, Jonathan Swift, The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen:
      Their address was in the most dutiful manner, approving of what her majesty had done toward a peace, and dissolve her parliament
  5. (archaic, transitive, usually with a reflexive pronoun) To show to be worthy; to demonstrate the merits of.
    • a. 1729, John Rogers, The Duty and Advantageous of Trust in God:
      The first care and concern must be to approve himself to God.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English approuen, approven, from Old French aprouer; a- + a form apparently derived from the pro, prod, in Latin prōsum (be useful or profitable). Compare with improve.


approve (third-person singular simple present approves, present participle approving, simple past and past participle approved)

  1. (transitive, law, English law) To make profit of; to convert to one's own profit — said especially of waste or common land appropriated by the lord of the manor.