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This term was coined by the British academic Dr Sadie Plant in a report, On The Mobile, which she wrote for Motorola in 2001 about the effect that the widespread use of mobile telephones was having on social and individual life around the world. In the report she coined a number of terms to describe aspects of such use, of which this one has gained some limited currency.

She set out the context like this: “Loose arrangements can be made in the knowledge that they can be firmed up at a later stage; people can be forewarned about late or early arrivals; meetings can be progressively refined. But this kind of flexibility — we can call it approximeeting — can also engender a new sense of insecurity. Everything is virtual until the parties and the places come together to make it real.”

This has now become a common way for young people in particular to meet and socialise and it reflects a small but significant shift in social behaviour that’s due entirely to the ubiquity of mobiles.

More and more with cellphone users, those plans are what British cultural studies professor Sadie Plant calls “approximeeting,” where a group of friends agree to head to a general location (say, a mall) and then coordinate exactly where to meet by cellphone as everyone starts showing up.

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, 7 Mar. 2004

The large groups of teenagers we see on the square, he says, will have converged here by making shifting arrangements to meet via mobile phone — so-called approximeeting.

Guardian, 26 Nov. 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 10 Dec. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 10 December 2005.