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I've come across these three different words, 近寄{ちかよ}る, 近づ{ちか}く and 迫{せま}る, which seemingly have similar definitions on the dictionary. Namely, in the sense of approaching, or drawing near.

I was wondering if someone could give some good insight on differences and similarities between them.

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近寄る and 近づく are closer in meaning than 迫る.

近寄る means quite literally to approach. It can also meaning to get close to someone emotionally. Because 寄る means to come or approach physically, its uses basically stop there. On a personal level, I've been competent in Japanese for 10 years and I've only ever seen this word written, not spoken. Even written it's not that common.

近づく has several more layers however. While also meaning to approach physically as well as emotionally, it is also used to describe approaching dates and events. It can also be used to describe approaching an ideal certain circumstance.

迫る on the other hand is used to describe something approaching in an impending sense. This can be used to describe something physical (an army, for example) or otherwise (dates, events, calamity, etc.).

Definitions in Japanese can be found here:

近寄る
近づく
迫る

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  • I feel like I've heard 近寄るな in TV shows before. Maybe someone else can confirm, but I think it is used in speech.
    – Shurim
    Mar 18 at 5:18
  • Opinions welcome! But TV show Japanese (excluding variety shows) isn't always real, everyday spoken Japanese Mar 18 at 13:48

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