dis·tance | \ˈdis-tən(t)s \

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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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

The film was produced by Red Bull Media House, which achieves the semi-unbelievable feat of making distance running look exciting. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, "The Newest Adventure Movies You Can Watch Right Now," 12 July 2018 The Gaylord Building also houses a prominent art exhibition space, the Gallery Seven art gallery and is within walking distance of the Will County Historical Society. Patrick Z. Mcgavin, Daily Southtown, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Public Landing in Lockport," 8 July 2018 Jeezy, who will turn 41 in September, has shed 60 pounds by recommitting to the gym, cutting out certain beloved staples of his diet, and falling in love with distance running. Christopher Cason, GQ, "The Real-Life Diet of Jeezy, Who Became a Distance Runner and Lost 60 Pounds," 3 July 2018 The South drove 68 yards to get within striking distance to tie the game, but the North blocked a Ben Norton 44-yard field goal attempt as timed expired. Rich Torress, Indianapolis Star, "North extends winning streak to four in IFCA All-Star game," 13 July 2018 No independent poll puts Barletta within striking distance of Casey, although Barletta is a staunch supporter of President Trump and Republican officials expect Trump will come to Pennsylvania to campaign for Barletta. Wire Reports, Philly.com, "Mike Pence to headline Lou Barletta fundraiser at Union League," 12 July 2018 One by one, motorists stopped within shooting distance of a bear or wolf or bison, snapped some photos and went on their way to the next photography bottleneck. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Bearizona: Top things to do at drive-thru wildlife park in Williams," 12 July 2018 Participants are invited to visit the backyards of six historic homes within walking distance of each other and sample craft beers from 24 breweries and food from six local restaurants. Vickie Snow Jurkowski, Daily Southtown, "5 boozy things to do July 20-21," 11 July 2018 All that has made for some parking frustrations, but a free parking garage just opened, within walking distance of ChopShop and its closest neighbors. Robert Philpot, star-telegram, "Talking shop — Roanoke ChopShop Live, that is — with Randy Rogers," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Likewise, Portillo’s lead lawyer, Mark Stevens, tried to distance his client from the crimes, arguing that the government’s witnesses had reason to lie — a chance to avoid charges or lengthy sentences for their own involvement. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Closing arguments Monday in trial of former top Bandidos leaders," 13 May 2018 Somehow, watching someone else’s head having attention lavished upon it has the effect of distancing me from my knife. Ashleigh Young, The Cut, "Ghost Knife," 2 July 2018 As a practical matter, though, the Pences can no longer distance themselves from the President while remaining in his orbit. Celeste Katz, Town & Country, "Karen Pence Is Playing the Mother of All Long Games," 19 Apr. 2018 Jarrar’s words … sparked a backlash on social media that would soon prompt the university to distance itself from her remarks. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Barbara Bush and Donald Trump responded very differently to the AIDS epidemic," 19 Apr. 2018 Both Lamont and Ganim have sought to distance themselves from Malloy, whose job approval ratings have cratered under the weight of budget deficits, tax increases and the loss of General Electric’s headquarters to Massachusetts. Neil Vigdor, courant.com, "Rival Democrats Ned Lamont And Joe Ganim Exchange Barbs In Raucous Debate," 12 July 2018 That comes as companies have sought to distance themselves from the rally. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Northrop Grumman Investigates Worker For Allegedly Attending Charlottesville Rally," 6 July 2018 Scott, a Republican seeking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, has sought to distance himself from the Trump administration’s policy. Skyler Swisher, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Scott won't recall National Guard troops on the border to protest child separation policy," 20 June 2018 Since then, Nielsen and President Trump have sought to distance the administration from the images of crying children being taken away from their parents. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, "Does the Trump administration have a policy of separating families at the border?," 18 June 2018

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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Learn More about distance

Statistics for distance

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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 \

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).


lying above or upon

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