noun al·ti·tude \ ˈal-tə-ˌtüd also -ˌtyüd \
|Updated on: 5 Aug 2018

Definition of altitude

1 a : the vertical elevation of an object above a surface (such as sea level or land) of a planet or natural satellite
b : the angular elevation of a celestial object above the horizon
c (1) : a perpendicular line segment from a vertex (see vertex 2a) of a geometric figure (such as a triangle or a pyramid) to the opposite side or the opposite side extended or from a side or face to a parallel side or face or the side or face extended
(2) : the length of an altitude
2 a : vertical distance or extent
b : position at a height
  • The plane lost altitude.
c : an elevated region : eminence usually used in plural
3 : a high level (as of quality or feeling)
  • the altitudes of his anger


play \ˌal-tə-ˈtü-dᵊn-əl, -ˈtyü-\ adjective


play \-dᵊn-əs\ adjective

Examples of altitude in a Sentence

  1. the air temperature at different altitudes

  2. Some visitors find it difficult to adjust to the city's high altitude.

  3. The plane lost altitude rapidly.

Recent Examples of altitude from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'altitude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of altitude

Middle English, from Latin altitudo height, depth, from altus high, deep — more at old

Synonym Discussion of altitude

height, altitude, elevation mean vertical distance either between the top and bottom of something or between a base and something above it. height refers to something measured vertically whether high or low.
    • a wall two meters in height
altitude and elevation apply to height as measured by angular measurement or atmospheric pressure; altitude is preferable when referring to vertical distance above the surface of the earth or above sea level; elevation is used especially in reference to vertical height on land.
    • fly at an altitude of 10,000 meters
    • Denver is a city with a high elevation

ALTITUDE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of altitude for English Language Learners

  • : the height of something (such as an airplane) above the level of the sea

ALTITUDE Defined for Kids


noun al·ti·tude \ ˈal-tə-ˌtüd , -ˌtyüd \

Definition of altitude for Students

1 : height above a certain level and especially above sea level
2 : the perpendicular distance from the base of a geometric figure to the vertex or to the side parallel to the base

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