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

Other Words from altitude

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

Synonyms for altitude


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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.
Recent Examples on the Web This generator is not recommended for use in high-altitude environments of above 3,000 feet, and the handle and wheel kit is sold separately. Kat De Naoum, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Sep. 2022 In the new view of Neptune, the exception to this is the planet's high-altitude methane ice clouds, which reflect sunlight before it can be absorbed by the methane. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 21 Sep. 2022 These are high-altitude methane-ice clouds, brightly reflecting sunligh. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 21 Sep. 2022 It will be used as a high-altitude communications gateway. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 19 Sep. 2022 There is no set route, and runners must create their own line to link up the peaks, often connecting them via technical, high-altitude traverses on rocky terrain. Zoë Rom, Outside Online, 14 Sep. 2022 Avoid driving through and camping close to their habitats in high-altitude marshes. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 8 Sep. 2022 And high-altitude bombing was difficult in usually cloudy Japan. Bob Carden,, 1 Sep. 2022 The region boasts Earth’s largest concentration of tropical glaciers - high-altitude ice masses that are unpredictable at the best of times, but have become increasingly fragile as the planet warms. Sarah Kaplan, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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.

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

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Last Updated

4 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Altitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for altitude


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

More from Merriam-Webster on altitude

Nglish: Translation of altitude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of altitude for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about altitude


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