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

Definition of distance

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : 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
2a(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
b : separation (see separation sense 2b) in time spanning the distance of several centuries
c(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
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 mathematics : the degree or amount of separation between two points, lines, surfaces, or objects
3 : a distant point or region gazed out into the distance
4a : capacity to observe dispassionately
b fine arts : aesthetic distance
5 obsolete : discord
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

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Examples of distance in a Sentence

Noun 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 Girls on the Run's programming typically builds community while preparing entrants for a 5K road race, but this year the organization has reworked its curriculum to function across the social distance. Margot Armbruster, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Pandemic leads Girls on the Run to change strategy for keeping youth active this summer," 1 July 2020 And for a more traditional parade, the city of Independence has spread its traditional parade out over a longer distance, so that spectators can stand apart for proper social distancing. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Top 5 things to do in Cincinnati this weekend: July 3-5," 1 July 2020 Drivers then travel a limited distance before crossing back to the traditional side of the road. al, "Alabama’s first diverging diamond interchange opens Wednesday," 30 June 2020 But in middle and high schools, universal face coverings should be required when a 6-foot distance is not able to be maintained and desks should be placed 3 to 6 feet apart. Alicia Lee, CNN, "Kids need to be physically in school when they return in the fall, pediatrics group says," 30 June 2020 The change would have significantly curbed panhandling by increasing the 20-feet distance panhandlers must currently keep in certain areas and further restricting acceptable panhandling spots. Amelia Pak-harvey, The Indianapolis Star, "Judge blocks new panhandling law from taking effect July 1," 30 June 2020 When a guest reserves a seat, the surrounding seats will be unavailable to ensure a 6-foot distance. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, "Mandatory masks and empty seats: Here's what to expect when movie theaters reopen," 30 June 2020 Regardless of the phase, families that select the 100 percent distance option will keep their children home. Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, "Loudoun schools will offer part-time in-person or full-time virtual learning," 30 June 2020 It would be recommended that desks be placed six feet apart and students and teachers social distance, even in the classroom. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan releases plan for K-12 school reopenings: What it will look like," 30 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Patrons can bring blankets and chairs to socially distance themselves. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, "Mallow Run's 2020 outdoor concert series will have a different look. Here's the schedule.," 2 July 2020 Residents should bring their own chairs and blankets, and are asked to distance themselves throughout Lyndhurst Park, located behind City Hall, 5301 Mayfield Road. cleveland, "Lyndhurst will present Fourth of July concert; September’s Home Days still a go," 1 July 2020 The revelations cast new doubt on the White House’s efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments. James Laporta, Anchorage Daily News, "White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019," 30 June 2020 The revelations cast new doubt on the White House's efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments. James Laporta, Fortune, "The White House was made aware of Russian bounties in 2019, AP sources say," 30 June 2020 Ducey on Thursday urged Arizonans to stay home whenever possible, to wear a mask, to distance from others and to stop gathering in large groups. Alison Steinbach, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona reports incomplete number of new COVID-19 cases on Monday as hospitalizations rise," 29 June 2020 Guests will be encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible. Courier Journal Staff, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Derby will have fans in the stands 'under strict guidelines,' officials say," 25 June 2020 Guests are encouraged to remain in their vehicles during the show; however, those who don’t should distance themselves at least six feet from other parties. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, "Frisco announces alternative July 4th celebration," 25 June 2020 Rustin planned the 1963 March on Washington, but was asked to publicly distance himself from Martin Luther King Jr. because of concerns over any controversy his being openly gay could have brought to the event. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "'This Has Been a Long Time Coming.' Two New York Candidates Now Poised to Become First Openly Gay Black, Afro-Latino Men in Congress," 24 June 2020

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 5


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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Learn More about distance

Time Traveler for distance

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for distance

Last Updated

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Distance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distance. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for distance


How to pronounce distance (audio)

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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