a guess or estimate: Ninety-three million miles is an approximation of the distance of the earth from the sun.
nearness in space, position, degree, or relation; proximity; closeness.
Mathematics, Physics. a result that is not necessarily exact, but is within the limits of accuracy required for a given purpose.

1400–50; late Middle English approximacioun (< Middle French) < Medieval Latin approximātiōn-, stem of approximātiō. See approximate, -ion

approximative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
approximation (əˌprɒksɪˈmeɪʃən)
1.  the process or result of making a rough calculation, estimate, or guess: he based his conclusion on his own approximation of the fuel consumption
2.  an imprecise or unreliable record or version: an approximation of what really happened
3.  maths an inexact number, relationship, or theory that is sufficiently accurate for a specific purpose
4.  maths
 a.  an estimate of the value of some quantity to a desired degree of accuracy
 b.  an expression in simpler terms than a given expression which approximates to it

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1640s, "action of approximating," from L. approximare (see approximate). Meaning "result of approximating" is from 1650s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

approximation ap·prox·i·ma·tion (ə-prŏk'sə-mā'shən)
Bringing tissue edges into desired apposition for suturing.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences
Still, the eight-spiked form was a closer approximation of the animal than some
  of the naturalist's earlier interpretations.
In spring, the hare's colors change to blue-gray in approximation of local
  rocks and vegetation.
Picture a wasp with its wings ripped off, and you'll have a good approximation
  of a bulldog ant.
The visible fixed stars are bodies for which the law of inertia certainly holds
  to a high degree of approximation.
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