An approximation is a rough estimate or guess at something. When you write a budget for the month, you're making an approximation of how much you're going to spend. You can't be certain of the exact amount.

Like approximately or proximity, approximation comes from the Latin proximus which means "nearest." An approximation is the nearest estimate you can get without having the precise size or measure of something. It's a ballpark figure. When you set out for work in the morning, the amount of time you give yourself to get there is an approximation. Depending on traffic and weather, you can never know exactly how long the trip will take.

Definitions of approximation

n an approximate calculation of quantity or degree or worth

estimate, estimation, idea
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estimation of the amount of lumber in a log
credit, credit rating
an estimate, based on previous dealings, of a person's or an organization's ability to fulfill their financial commitments
dead reckoning, guess, guessing, guesswork, shot
an estimate based on little or no information
guesstimate, guestimate
an estimate that combines reasoning with guessing
overestimate, overestimation, overrating, overreckoning
a calculation that results in an estimate that is too high
underestimate, underestimation, underrating, underreckoning
an estimation that is too low; an estimate that is less than the true or actual value
Type of:
calculation, computation, figuring, reckoning
problem solving that involves numbers or quantities

n an imprecise or incomplete account

“newspapers gave only an approximation of the actual events”
Type of:
an interpretation of a matter from a particular viewpoint

n the quality of coming near to identity (especially close in quantity)

Type of:
the quality of being similar

n the act of bringing near or bringing together especially the cut edges of tissue

bringing close together
Type of:
connection, connexion, joining
the act of bringing two things into contact (especially for communication)

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