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 For example, peripheral neuropathy causes symptoms in the distal extremities (toes and fingers). Michael Menna, Verywell Health, 11 July 2024 After undergoing surgery to repair the distal humerus fracture in her arm, Gladys had a temporary cast applied, which was later replaced with a custom titanium cast designed by Colibrium Additive, a GE Aerospace company, on April 19. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 19 May 2024 Studies, however, show that the increase in diagnoses is mainly driven by a rise in rectal cancers and cancers found in the left, or distal, side of the colon, near the rectum. Knvul Sheikh, New York Times, 27 Mar. 2024 The gold mineralization is strongly positively associated with Cu, As, Ag, Bi, W and K, while Mo, Sb and Ca anomalies are as haloes distal to the gold, Hg is usually undetectable, Pb and Zn are mainly distal, and Ba has a wide distribution. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 7 Mar. 2024 Kleinert Kutz Hand Center has a rich history of leading the medical field in hand care, having completed the first successful hand transplants, toe to hand transfers, total distal radial joint replacement, and more. Olivia Evans, The Courier-Journal, 1 Feb. 2024 These were found on distal forelimbs of certain species like Caudipteryx, serving as proto-wings that were too small to use for flight, as well as around the tip of the tail as plumage. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 6 Feb. 2024 Salmon was transported on a pontoon boat through darkness back to the marina and taken to the emergency room at Page (Ariz.) Hospital, where X-rays showed a compression fracture of the distal radius, a common injury for people bracing themselves from a fall. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2023 In fact, some of the deposits observed by the Spirit rover near the Home Plate feature may be distal pyroclastic deposits from Apollinaris Patera. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 2 Nov. 2010

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 23 Jul. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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