Definition of proximal in US English:



  • 1Situated nearer to the center of the body or the point of attachment.

    ‘the proximal end of the forearm’
    The opposite of distal
    • ‘The needle enters just proximal to the first metacarpal on the extensor surface.’
    • ‘The nerve recombined also beyond the tendon and was subject to compression, proximal to the pisiform bone.’
    • ‘In all patients, the injection was administered proximal to the carpal tunnel.’
    • ‘Approximately one third of polyps and one half of colorectal cancers occur proximal to the splenic flexure.’
    • ‘The small bowel is of narrow caliber distal to the meconium plug and dilated proximal to the meconium plugs.’
    1. 1.1Geology Relating to or denoting an area close to a center of a geological process such as sedimentation or volcanism.
      Often contrasted with distal
      • ‘Such sediments and ichnofacies suggest lag deposits winnowed in proximal storm-generated beds.’
      • ‘If it was originally present, the proximal part of this onlapping succession has since been removed by erosion.’
      • ‘The precipitates are now difficult to locate and were not found in our recent shallow cores through the proximal sinter terrace.’
      • ‘Individual deposit thicknesses vary from 20 m in proximal facies, to less than 2 m in distal facies.’
      • ‘The shoaling trend is thought to reflect upward transition from prodelta to distal and then proximal delta front.’


Early 19th century (as a term in anatomy and zoology): from Latin proximus ‘nearest’ + -al. In geology, usage dates from the 1940s.