dis·​tance | \ ˈdi-stən(t)s How to pronounce distance (audio) \

Definition of distance

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 obsolete : discord
2a : separation (see separation sense 2b) in time spanning the distance of several centuries
b mathematics : the degree or amount of separation between two points, lines, surfaces, or objects
c(1) mathematics : an extent of area or an advance (see advance entry 2 sense 1) along a route measured in a straight line measure the distance between point A and point B the distance between the Earth and the Sun
(2) : an extent of space measured other than linearly within walking distance
d : an extent of advance from a beginning they carried Puritan severity quite a distance— John Gould
e : expanse A distance of field, woods, and diluted November sky …— Elizabeth Bowen
f(1) : length of a race or contest won both the 400 meter and the 800 meter distances
(2) : the full length (as of a prizefight or ball game)
(3) : a long race distance training
3 : the quality or state of being distant: such as
a : spatial remoteness quite a distance between the two hospitals
b : personal and especially emotional separation feels a distance from her brother that wasn't there before also : reserve, coldness
c : difference, disparity the distance between the two philosophies
4 : a distant point or region gazed out into the distance
5a fine arts : aesthetic distance
b : capacity to observe dispassionately
go the distance or less commonly last the distance
: to complete a course of action


distanced; distancing

Definition of distance (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to make or maintain a personal or emotional separation from : to place or keep at a distance able to distance themselves from the tragedy distances herself from her coworkers
2 : to leave far behind : outstrip easily distanced the other candidates in the race



Definition of distance (Entry 3 of 3)

: taking place via electronic media linking instructors and students who are not together in a classroom distance learning distance education

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Synonyms for distance

Synonyms: Noun

lead, length, remove, spacing, spread, stretch, way

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Examples of distance in a Sentence


What is the distance between the Earth and the Sun? The gas station is a short distance away. Speed is measured in time and distance. She kept the children a safe distance from the road. The sign was hard to read from a distance. We followed them at a distance. She feels a distance from her brother that wasn't there before. Although they were once good friends, there was now considerable distance between them. He wants to put distance between himself and his former boss.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Strong tee-to-green play is essential regardless of course conditions or layout, and when Mr McIlroy manages to steady his putter from middling distances, few if any golfers can keep up with him. D.r., The Economist, "Can Rory McIlroy win on his home turf?," 17 July 2019 He was previously linked with comedian Sarah Silverman before the pair split over the Christmas holidays in 2017 over the physical distance between them. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Michael Sheen, 50, is expecting a 'little angel' with girlfriend Anna Lundberg, 25," 17 July 2019 The Mavic 2 also carries a spot meter that can measure critical or hazardous objects while maintaining a safe distance such as chemical spills and other chemicals that may have a temperature limit. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "LCSO expands drone program with new pilots," 17 July 2019 Barge, who is based in New York, is moving to California for his husband’s job and felt the distance between the west coast and Cleveland was too much to effectively lead the team going forward, sources said. Eric Heisig, cleveland.com, "Head of Cleveland police consent decree monitoring team to take lesser role," 16 July 2019 Due to its large mass and current heat content, PDS 70c is estimated to be about three times the size of Jupiter; the disk that surrounds it is estimated to extend up to three times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "No exomoons yet, but we may have spotted a disk that will form them," 16 July 2019 Molinari’s issue is not ballstriking or distance, though. Geoff Shackelford, azcentral, "British Open: 10 players to watch this week," 16 July 2019 Martin chipped in on the glass and was adept behind the 3-point line, shooting 14-of35 from distance (40%). Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Kyle Guy, Carsen Edwards, Kelan Martin impress in NBA Summer League," 16 July 2019 The ratio of dividing that distance by velocity can determine the Hubble constant. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Red giant stars create new way to measure how quickly the universe is expanding," 16 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The president has since distanced himself from the chanting as Democrats came to Omar's defense. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "What we know about the 'send her back' chants that erupted at Trump's North Carolina rally," 18 July 2019 Salvini had initially distanced himself from Savoini, denied taking any money from Russia and brushed off opposition demands to respond in Parliament. Washington Post, "Italy’s Salvini bows to pressure to respond on Russia report," 17 July 2019 Since he was charged in 2006 both men have distanced themselves from Mr Epstein. The Economist, "Was Jeffrey Epstein’s plea deal fishy?," 13 July 2019 For years, Internet companies distanced themselves from taking responsibility for content on their platforms, but as political scrutiny has mounted, executives have struck a more accountable tone. Katy Steinmetz, Time, "Inside Instagram's War on Bullying," 8 July 2019 Airlines, too, have distanced themselves from Trump’s policies. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "The Wayfair walkout is the latest corporate backlash to Trump’s immigration policies," 26 June 2019 In a letter to Congress, Waldrop distanced the NTRA from the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008 because of concerns about the industry’s physical capacity to care for unwanted horses and the lack of a funding mechanism to provide that care. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Reform or extinction? Many see horse slaughter as existential threat to racing," 15 June 2019 In short order, ARENA formally distanced itself from the truce, and the presidential candidate from the FMLN soon did the same. Daniel Castro, Harper's magazine, "The Truce," 10 June 2019 The hospital where the babies were allegedly born, Shenzhen Harmonicare Women’s and Children’s Hospital, also distanced itself from He. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Is the CRISPR baby controversy the start of a terrifying new chapter in gene editing?," 22 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of distance


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1972, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for distance


see distant


see distant


see distant

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Statistics for distance

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distance

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

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More Definitions for distance



English Language Learners Definition of distance

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the amount of space between two places or things
: a point or place that is far away from another point or place
: a state in which people are not involved with or friendly toward each other



English Language Learners Definition of distance (Entry 2 of 2)

: to show that you are not involved with someone or something : to end a connection to or relationship with someone or something


dis·​tance | \ ˈdi-stəns How to pronounce distance (audio) \

Kids Definition of distance

1 : how far from each other two points or places are
2 : a point or place that is far away He saw a light in the distance.
3 : the quality or state of not being friendly She heard the distance in his voice.

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More from Merriam-Webster on distance

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for distance

Spanish Central: Translation of distance

Nglish: Translation of distance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distance for Arabic Speakers

Comments on distance

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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