dis·​tal ˈdi-stᵊl How to pronounce distal (audio)
anatomy : situated away from the point of attachment or origin or a central point especially of the body compare proximal
the distal ends of the tibia and fibula
dentistry : of, relating to, or being the surface of a tooth that is next to the tooth behind it or that is farthest from the middle of the front of the jaw compare mesial sense 2
distally adverb

Examples of distal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The inflation is usually from distal (farthest from the body) to proximal (closest to the body), creating a wave-like motion. Good Housekeeping, 23 Aug. 2023 He was injured in September 1996 when three of the ligaments in his shoulder snapped off his distal clavicle bone during a game against Texas A&M University. Danielle Bacher, Peoplemag, 28 Aug. 2023 However, his season will be over after a distal femoral osteotomy is performed at the end of the month. Meghan Montemurro, Chicago Tribune, 24 June 2023 Mare Kimberly Dream sustained a distal sesamodean ligament rupture to her front leg while running in Saturday's first race. Emily Mae Czachor, CBS News, 28 May 2023 According to a Saturday statement from Churchill Downs, mare Kimberely Dream was euthanized following a distal sesamoidean ligament rupture to her front leg sustained in the first race on Saturday. Alexis Jones, Peoplemag, 28 May 2023 Duvall on assignment Outfielder Adam Duvall, out since April 10 with a distal radius fracture in his left wrist, will start a rehab assignment Tuesday with the WooSox. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, 26 May 2023 Possibilities include Lyme Disease, tuberculosis, syphilis, and blistering distal dactylitis. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 6 May 2023 The real story with Puyehue-Cordón Caulle has got to be the distal effects of the eruption, where ash from a volcano in southern South America has wreaked havoc as far away as South Africa and Australia/New Zealand as the ash travels around the world. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 21 June 2011 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'distal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


distant + -al

First Known Use

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of distal was in 1803

Dictionary Entries Near distal

Cite this Entry

“Distal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distal. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


dis·​tal ˈdis-tᵊl How to pronounce distal (audio)
: situated away from the point of attachment or origin or a central point: as
: located away from the center of the body
the distal end of a bone
compare proximal sense 1a
: located away from the mesial plane of the body compare mesial sense 2
: of, relating to, or being the surface of a tooth that is next to the following tooth counting from the middle of the front of the upper or lower jaw or that faces the back of the mouth in the case of the last tooth on each side compare mesial sense 3, proximal sense 1b
: physical or social rather than sensory compare proximal sense 2
distally adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on distal

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