al·​ti·​tude | \ ˈal-tə-ˌtüd How to pronounce altitude (audio) also -ˌtyüd \

Definition of altitude

1a : 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 sense 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
2a : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from altitude

altitudinal \ ˌal-​tə-​ˈtü-​də-​nəl How to pronounce altitudinal (audio) , -​ˈtyü-​ \ adjective
altitudinous \ ˌal-​tə-​ˈtü-​də-​nəs How to pronounce altitudinous (audio) , -​ˈtyü-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of altitude in a Sentence

the air temperature at different altitudes Some visitors find it difficult to adjust to the city's high altitude. The plane lost altitude rapidly.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The altitude was around 8,400 feet, a little lower than the peaks of the Aiguilles Rouge, mostly snow-free now in July. Simon Akam, Outside Online, "You Won’t Pass Chamonix’s Mountain Guiding Test," 27 Nov. 2019 Colors of the sky are determined by the composition and density of the atmosphere, along with the altitude of the collisions, according to the Institute. Joelle Goldstein,, "Northern Lights Will Be Visible in Parts of the United States — Just in Time for Frozen 2!," 20 Nov. 2019 But the design process came with its fair share of challenges—an extreme climate, the high altitude—that required creative solutions. Kate Mcgregor, ELLE Decor, "This Sun Valley Ski Chalet is the Place for Instant Relaxation," 5 Nov. 2019 Got to take the altitude into consideration, but Williams rotated quite a bit. Duane Rankin, azcentral, "Phoenix Suns push Denver Nuggets to brink before falling in OT without Deandre Ayton," 25 Oct. 2019 When the balloon reaches the right altitude, these satellites would use the balloon as a launching pad, rocketing only 11 miles into space. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Let's Think About Using Hot Air Balloons to Get to Space," 4 Oct. 2019 Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed till the altitude of 2.1 km. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Early signs are that India’s moon mission has failed," 6 Sep. 2019 If the buzz of having one of the fest’s hottest films and being the subject of one of its silver medallion tributes isn’t enough to make an actor lightheaded, there is also the altitude. Rebecca Keegan, The Hollywood Reporter, "Telluride Diary: High Hopes (and One Eyebrow-Raising Guest) Kick Off Awards Season," 31 Aug. 2019 And thanks to the high mountain altitude, fall foliage starts turning in late August and early September, making the weather just perfect to explore the outdoors. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "8 Last Minute Labor Day Destinations You Can Still Book Today," 29 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of altitude

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for altitude

Middle English, "height, angular height of a celestial body above the horizon," borrowed from Latin altitūdin-, altitūdō "height, high position, downward extension, depth," from altus "extending upward, tall, high, extending downward, deep" + -i- -i- + -tūdin-, -tūdō -tude; altus going back to dialectal Indo-European *al-to- (whence also Middle Irish alt, allt "height, cliff," Welsh allt "hill, steep slope, cliff"), of uncertain origin

Note: Traditionally equated with Germanic *alđa- "old," and further to a verbal base *al- "nourish" (< Indo-European *h2el- "nourish, feed;" see old entry 1), on the assumption that the verbal adjective *al-to- "fully grown, nourished" leads to both "old" and "high." However, both the Latin and Celtic etyma refer primarily or exclusively to points situated above the ground, not human or animal growth, so such a connection is questionable.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about altitude

Time Traveler for altitude

Time Traveler

The first known use of altitude was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for altitude

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Altitude.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for altitude


How to pronounce altitude (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of altitude

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


al·​ti·​tude | \ ˈal-tə-ˌtüd How to pronounce altitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Kids Definition of altitude

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on altitude

What made you want to look up altitude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


heavy with or as if with moisture

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!