AskDefine | Define approximately

Dictionary Definition

approximately adv : (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct; "lasted approximately an hour"; "in just about a minute"; "he's about 30 years old"; "I've had about all I can stand"; "we meet about once a month"; "some forty people came"; "weighs around a hundred pounds"; "roughly $3,000"; "holds 3 gallons, more or less"; "20 or so people were at the party" [syn: about, close to, just about, some, roughly, more or less, around, or so]

User Contributed Dictionary



Ap-proxi-mate-ly AHD phonetic symbols: [ă-prŏksə-mĭt-lē]


(abbreviated as approx.)
  1. imprecise but close to in quantity or amount
    In every box of matches there are approximately 40 matchsticks.
    Per 100g of chocolate there are approximately 11.6g of saturated fat.
    ...approximately 60 beats per minute.



Related terms

Extensive Definition

An approximation (represented by the symbol ≈) is an inexact representation of something that is still close enough to be useful. Although approximation is most often applied to numbers, it is also frequently applied to such things as mathematical functions, shapes, and physical laws.
Approximations may be used because incomplete information prevents use of exact representations. Many problems in physics are either too complex to solve analytically, or impossible to solve. Thus, even when the exact representation is known, an approximation may yield a sufficiently accurate solution while reducing the complexity of the problem significantly.
For instance, physicists often approximate the shape of the Earth as a sphere even though more accurate representations are possible, because many physical behaviours—e.g. gravity—are much easier to calculate for a sphere than for less regular shapes.
The problem consisting of two or more planets orbiting around a sun has no exact solution. Often, ignoring the gravitational effects of the planets gravitational pull on each other and assuming that the sun does not move achieve a good approximation. The use of perturbations to correct for the errors can yield more accurate solutions. Simulations of the motions of the planets and the star also yields more accurate solutions.
The type of approximation used depends on the available information, the degree of accuracy required, the sensitivity of the problem to this data, and the savings (usually in time and effort) that can be achieved by approximation.


The scientific method is carried out with a constant interaction between scientific laws (theory) and empirical measurements, which are constantly compared to one another.
The approximation also refers to using a simpler process. This model is used to make predictions easier. The most common versions of philosophy of science accept that empirical measurements are always approximations—they do not perfectly represent what is being measured. The history of science indicates that the scientific laws commonly felt to be true at any time in history are only approximations to some deeper set of laws. For example, attempting to resolve a model using outdated physical laws alone incorporates an inherent source of error, which should be corrected by approximating the quantum effects not present in these laws.
Each time a newer set of laws is proposed, it is required that in the limiting situations in which the older set of laws were tested against experiments, the newer laws are nearly identical to the older laws, to within the measurement uncertainties of the older measurements. This is the correspondence principle.


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≈ (formal)
~ (informal) symbols representing approximation. Approximation usually occurs when an exact form or an exact numerical number is unknown. However some known form may exist and may be able to represent the real form so that no significant deviation can be found. Numerical approximations sometimes result from using a small number of significant digits. Approximation theory is a branch of mathematics, a quantitative part of functional analysis. Diophantine approximation deals with approximation to real numbers by rational numbers. The symbol "≈" means "approximately equal to"; tilde (~) and the Libra sign (* Congruence


approximately in Breton: Tostadur
approximately in Czech: Aproximace
approximately in Danish: Approksimation
approximately in German: Approximation
approximately in Esperanto: Proksimuma kalkulado
approximately in French: Approximation
approximately in Icelandic: Námundun
approximately in Italian: Approssimazione
approximately in Dutch: Benadering
approximately in Japanese: 近似
approximately in Polish: Aproksymacja
approximately in Portuguese: Aproximação
approximately in Russian: Аппроксимация
approximately in Simple English: Approximation
approximately in Finnish: Approksimaatio
approximately in Swedish: Approximation
approximately in Ukrainian: Апроксимація

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

about, all but, all in all, almost, almost entirely, approaching, approximatively, around, by and large, chiefly, circa, close to, effectually, essentially, for practical purposes, generally, generally speaking, in round numbers, in the main, mainly, more or less, most, mostly, much, nearabout, nearly, nigh, on balance, on the whole, plus ou moins, practically, roughly, roughly speaking, roundly, say, some, substantially, virtually, well-nigh
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