Could you explain difference between them such as usage? In my dictionary, both have almost the same meaning. I cannot understand exactly.

  • 5
    A very short answer: just don't use "approbate". It's a very rare word and a lot of people won't understand what it means.
    – stangdon
    Mar 10, 2016 at 16:09
  • 2
    @stangdon: Quite. As I expected, searching Google Books for approbation sic turns up several instances where [sic] is included because the writer is citing someone else's incorrect use of approbation (where they probably should have used opprobrium). Mar 10, 2016 at 17:42
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    As well as "rare", oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/approbate gives it as "US". I've never seen the verb "approbate" in British English, though the noun "approbation" is used (but only in a very formal context)
    – alephzero
    Mar 10, 2016 at 19:56
  • For a learner, the difference is that "approve" is an actual word while "approbate" is a rare technical term.
    – Martha
    Mar 11, 2016 at 3:30

4 Answers 4


Approbate means "to officially authorize" while approve means "agree or accept". Approbate is very formal and rather uncommon, and is usually used in official contexts such as political proceedings. Additionally, approbate refers more to the action of approving whereas approve connotes an attitude or sentiment, especially a moral judgment. Approve can also be used in context to mean "officially approve".


"I don't approve of such revealing clothing."

"The chairman approbated our request."

"This order needs to be approved by a judge before it can be carried out."

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    +1 for highlighting the distinction between the action and the sentiment. "Approve" can be the action, but "approbate" is always the action.
    – Adam
    Mar 10, 2016 at 15:57

Approbate is more formal than approve. In addition, its definition is more specific, describing an official approval.


I'm not very familiar with the word "approbate" so I might be missing some of the nuances. As far as I can tell, they mean the same thing, but approbate is far more formal.

For example, I might approve of a new law, but that doesn't mean it is any more or less likely to become a law. But if the government "approbates" a new law, this new law is now legally and formally approved and is the law.

As for usage, I would recommend almost always using approve. You can use "approve" anywhere you could use "approbate" but definitely not the other way around. For example:

I'm DJMcMayhem, and I approbate this message.

Sounds very strange. I would also recommend "approve" since it's a much more common word.


As you say, they both have pretty much the same meaning. They have come, via different routes, from the latin word probere, meaning to test. Approbate is slightly more official in meaning, and many english speakers would have to look it up in the dictionary to be sure of the meaning. Firefox spell checker isn't to sure about it either :-). If you want to be understood, I would stick to approve.

It's worth noting that the expression "approve of" has a slightly different meaning. Here are some examples:

The government approved the new construction project.
The government approbated the new visa requirements.

Governments are involved, they have made a decision: something very important is about to happen.

My boss approved my expenses

This is only a small decision, but something is still going to happen as a result of it.

He approved of her taste in music.

He has no control over her taste in music, nothing will happen as a result of his approval, but he likes the kind of music she likes.

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