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

Synonyms for altitude


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Bamber says the analysis shows that if the trend continues, some low-altitude mountain regions will lose their glaciers entirely by the year 2050. Eric Niiler, Wired, "Melting Mountain Glaciers May Not Survive the Century," 28 Apr. 2021 Others have hired helicopters to fly at low altitude over their crops to keep the air circulating to try to prevent frost. Alex Ledsom, Forbes, "French Vineyards ‘Ablaze’ Across France: The Fight To Save Crops," 8 Apr. 2021 During Thursday’s tests, the missiles demonstrated low-altitude, maneuverable flight and accurately hit a sea target 600 kilometers (372 miles) away. Fox News, "North Korean missiles getting more agile, evasive: experts," 26 Mar. 2021 Wind turbines are also more prone to encounters with freezing rain and other low-altitude, high-water-content environments, such as ocean spray for offshore wind turbines. Hui Hu, The Conversation, "The science behind frozen wind turbines – and how to keep them spinning through the winter," 4 Mar. 2021 New Shepard is designed to carry people on rides past the edge of space, reaching an altitude of more than 340,000 feet (or more than 100 kilometers). NBC News, "Blue Origin aims to fly first passengers into space as early as April," 14 Jan. 2021 Silver Line finally opens, but the first train tragically collides with some low-altitude airborne swine. Washington Post, "Style Conversational Week 1414: YIP, YIP for 2021," 10 Dec. 2020 On each flight, six paying passengers the opportunity to travel to the very edge of space, reaching an altitude of 130,000 feet and briefly experience weightlessness before cruising back to Earth. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Take a Look Inside Virgin Galactic's Sleek Spaceplane," 28 July 2020 That October, Félicette—then designated C341—was launched from a base in the Sahara Desert, reaching an altitude of about 100 miles above Earth. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Félicette, the First Cat in Space, Finally Gets a Memorial," 28 Jan. 2020

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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Altitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for altitude



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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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