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Approve vs. Disapprove: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
To approve is to officially agree with or accept as satisfactory, while to disapprove is to have or express an unfavorable opinion. They are antonyms representing affirmative and negative judgments, respectively.

Key Differences

To approve means to give a favorable opinion about something, showcasing acceptance or agreement. It often implies that the person has gone through an evaluation or consideration process and has concluded that the subject meets certain standards or expectations. Disapprove, conversely, is to consider something as not meeting specific standards or expectations, thus expressing a negative judgment or opinion. Disapproval often comes when the subject is deemed inappropriate, incorrect, or unsatisfactory.
The term "approve" is often associated with agreement, consent, or endorsement, indicating a positive stance toward the subject in question. It may come after deliberation, reflecting the assessor's satisfaction with the subject's quality, morality, or adherence to certain rules or norms. In contrast, to "disapprove" reflects a lack of satisfaction with the subject’s quality, morality, or conformity to rules, highlighting a disagreement or rejection. It means the subject has been found wanting in one aspect or another, thus not earning endorsement or consent.
When one approves, they allow for a certain course of action, validate a viewpoint, or confirm the value of an object or decision. This affirmative expression may come with an official sanction, permission, or endorsement, and is often seen in official or formal settings. On the other hand, to disapprove is to reject or withhold agreement or sanction, demonstrating that the subject is not in alignment with the evaluator's values, standards, or expectations. It signifies a refusal to validate or accept the viewpoint, action, or decision under consideration.
Approve and disapprove act as antonyms in contexts where judgment, evaluation, and expression of opinions are involved. While to approve is to give a green light, signifying acceptance and agreement, to disapprove is to give a red light, indicating rejection and disagreement. These terms are widely used in varied contexts, from formal approvals of proposals to informal expressions of likes and dislikes, reflecting the spectrum of human assessments and preferences.

Comparison Chart


Expresses a favorable or affirmative opinion.
Expresses an unfavorable or negative opinion.


Suggests agreement, acceptance, or satisfaction.
Suggests disagreement, rejection, or dissatisfaction.


Used to convey consent or endorsement.
Used to convey a lack of consent or endorsement.


Allows or validates a course of action or viewpoint.
Rejects or invalidates a course of action or viewpoint.


Associated with positive judgment and official sanction.
Associated with negative judgment and withholding of sanction.

Approve and Disapprove Definitions


To give formal sanction, consent, or authorization.
The manager will approve your vacation request.


To regard as wrong or inappropriate.
Parents often disapprove of excessive video game play.


To have or express a favorable opinion of.
I approve of his diligent work ethic.


To withhold approval.
The committee may disapprove the proposal if it lacks detail.


To officially agree with or accept as satisfactory.
The board will approve the budget for the next fiscal year.


To have or express an unfavorable opinion.
I disapprove of his dishonest tactics.


To consent to officially or formally; confirm or sanction
The Senate approved the treaty.


To have an unfavorable opinion of; condemn.


To consider right or good
"He came to ask me ... whether I approved his choice altogether" (Jane Austen).


To refuse to approve; reject.


(Obsolete)To prove or attest.


To have an unfavorable opinion
Disapproves of drinking.


To show, feel, or express approval
We didn't approve of the decision.


(intransitive) To condemn; to consider wrong or inappropriate; used with of.
She disapproves of rap music because of its sometimes aggressive lyrics.


(transitive) To officially sanction; to ratify; to confirm; to set as satisfactory.
Although we may disagree with it, we must nevertheless approve the sentence handed down by the court-martial.


To have or express an unfavorable opinion. en transitive or not? merge with sense 1: same thing?


(transitive) To regard as good; to commend; to be pleased with; to think well of.
We approve the measure of the administration, for it is an excellent decision.


(transitive) To refuse to approve; reject.


To make proof of; to demonstrate; to prove or show practically.


To pass unfavorable judgment upon; to condemn by an act of the judgment; to regard as wrong, unsuitable, or inexpedient; to censure; as, to disapprove the conduct of others.


To consider worthy (to); to be pleased (with); to accept.
Her mother never approves of any of her boyfriends. She thinks nobody is good enough for her little girl.


To refuse official approbation to; to disallow; to decline to sanction; as, the sentence of the court-martial was disapproved by the commander in chief.


To show to be worthy; to demonstrate the merits of.


Consider bad or wrong


To make profit of; to convert to one's own profit — said especially of waste or common land appropriated by the lord of the manor.


Deem wrong or inappropriate;
I disapprove of her child rearing methods


To show to be real or true; to prove.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy? ApproveFirst thy obedience.


To have an unfavorable opinion or judgment.
Many disapprove of actions that harm the environment.


To make proof of; to demonstrate; to prove or show practically.
Opportunities to approve . . . worth.
He had approved himself a great warrior.
'T is an old lesson; Time approves it true.
His account . . . approves him a man of thought.


To sanction officially; to ratify; to confirm; as, to approve the decision of a court-martial.


To regard as good; to commend; to be pleased with; to think well of; as, we approve the measured of the administration.


To make or show to be worthy of approbation or acceptance.
The first care and concern must be to approve himself to God.
They had not approved of the deposition of James.
They approved of the political institutions.


To make profit of; to convert to one's own profit; - said esp. of waste or common land appropriated by the lord of the manor.


Give sanction to;
I approve of his educational policies


Judge to be right or commendable; think well of


To accept as satisfactory.
The committee will approve the project after a thorough review.


To consider right or good.
Parents often approve of healthy eating habits.


Can a proposal be approved conditionally?

Yes, a proposal can receive conditional approval, subject to fulfilling certain requirements or modifications.

Can one disapprove of someone’s behavior?

Absolutely, one can disapprove of someone’s actions or behavior if they find it inappropriate or wrong.

Is to approve always a formal action?

While approve can be used in formal settings, it can also refer to personal or informal expressions of favorable opinions.

Is it common to disapprove based on moral grounds?

Yes, it is common for individuals to disapprove of actions, decisions, or behaviors based on their moral values.

Can an organization approve policies and procedures?

Certainly, organizations often approve policies and procedures to ensure standardized operations.

Can disapproval lead to change?

Yes, expressing disapproval can prompt reflection and potentially lead to change in behavior, policy, or decisions.

Are approve and disapprove antonyms?

Yes, approve and disapprove are antonyms representing positive and negative judgments, respectively.

Can disapprove mean to reject?

Yes, to disapprove can mean to reject or withhold approval.

Can disapproval be expressed non-verbally?

Yes, disapproval can be conveyed through non-verbal cues like facial expressions, gestures, or body language.

Can a parent approve of a child’s choices?

Absolutely, a parent can approve of a child’s decisions or choices if they find them appropriate or right.

Can societal norms influence what people disapprove of?

Certainly, societal norms and values can significantly influence what people disapprove of.

Does to approve imply agreement?

Yes, to approve generally implies agreement or consent with the subject in question.

Is it necessary to communicate reasons when one disapproves?

While not always mandatory, communicating reasons for disapproval can clarify understanding and foster constructive dialogue.

Can approving involve an evaluation process?

Yes, approving often involves evaluating whether the subject meets certain criteria or standards.

Can public opinion disapprove of governmental actions?

Indeed, public opinion can disapprove of governmental actions perceived as unfavorable or detrimental.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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