One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Almost equal in extent or scope; (of quantities) almost identical in magnitude; (of persons or objects) almost identical in qualities or attributes.
A person or thing almost measuring up to another; a person or thing having nearly all of the qualities or attributes of another.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in James Harrington (1611–1677), political theorist. From near + equal.
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