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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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

If eyes are the window to your soul, then Jennifer Ejoke, known by her stage name Wavy the Creator, knows exactly how to keep the world at a mystifying distance with her permanent shades-up look. Whitney Wei, Vogue, "The Artist Behind Nigeria’s Newest Dance Anthem Has Crazy Style," 5 Nov. 2018 In 2015, the asteroid flew past Earth at a distance of just 300,000 miles, Space.com reports. James Rogers, Fox News, "Eerie skull-shaped asteroid will zoom past Earth just after Halloween," 28 Sep. 2018 There never seems to be anyone with her except a cop following at a discreet distance. Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Reportedly Seems Lonely as She Adjusts to Royal Life," 19 Sep. 2018 The scooter’s braking distance on a dry road is about 13 feet. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Unagi is the $1,190 electric scooter you won’t want to share with anyone," 17 Nov. 2018 Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are also looking off into the distance, and appear to be in the middle of letting out a good chuckle. Mekita Rivas, Teen Vogue, "Prince Charles 70th Birthday Photos Reunite Royal Family," 14 Nov. 2018 The flying time for the 8,070-mile distance from Seattle to Singapore is 16 hours, 30 minutes—about two hours shy of the record-setting Newark-Changi haul, and still quicker than the 17 hour, 50-minute flight from LAX to Changi. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "Singapore Airlines to Fly Nonstop to Seattle," 1 Nov. 2018 Getty Images As newest husband and wife on the royal block, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, drove off together into the distance yesterday for a royal carriage procession the public invitation to their wedding came to a polite close. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Inside Princess Eugenie's Royal Wedding Reception, After Some Guests Break the Strict Social Media Ban," 13 Oct. 2018 Other optical observations completed the puzzle by measuring the distance to blazar TXS 0506+056: about four billion light years from Earth. Smithsonian, "Scientists Explain The Thrill of Detecting a Neutrino From a Far-Off Galaxy," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Disney is gearing up to launch its own standalone streaming service in 2019, and is in the process of distancing itself from Netflix. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Following in Luke Cage and Iron Fist’s footsteps," 30 Nov. 2018 This account attempts to distance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the killing, even though officials linked to the 33-year-old ruler have been implicated. Matthew Lee, The Seattle Times, "Shifting Saudi account of writer’s death confirms key parts," 23 Oct. 2018 Globally, the fashion industry has also been distancing itself from the use of fur. Ana Colón, Glamour, "Los Angeles Might Become the Largest U.S. City to Ban the Sale of Fur," 19 Sep. 2018 According to Revelist, Lee and her products seem to have been scrubbed from various beauty websites as brands work to distance themselves from her. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Is Laura Lee Getting Dropped by Beauty Brands Because of Her Past Racist Tweets?," 22 Aug. 2018 Meanwhile, Trump has done little to distance himself from his former campaign manager. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Paul Manafort Spent Nearly a Million Dollars Trying to Dress Like a Cool Dad," 2 Aug. 2018 Questions about Sanders' racial attitudes arose after Papa John's founder John Schnatter admitted Wednesday to using the N-word while learning how to distance himself from racist groups, saying Sanders had never faced criticism for using it. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "Papa John said Colonel Sanders used the N-word. Was KFC's icon racist?," 13 July 2018 The situation illustrates the difficulty for companies closely tied to a single person, and that Papa John's may need to distance itself further from Schnatter after dealing with backlashes brought about by his comments. Candice Choi, chicagotribune.com, "Papa John is gone, but his image is still entwined with pizza chain," 12 July 2018 Tom Brady’s shady training guru, Alex Guerrero, was quick to distance himself in the hours after Edelman’s failed test became public (Edelman is a TB12 client). Dan Shaughnessy, BostonGlobe.com, "Will we ever know what PED Julian Edelman took?," 6 July 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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Statistics for distance

Last Updated

7 Dec 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).


living or existing for a long time

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