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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For decades, my admiration of Mo remained at a distance. Robert Hilburn, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2022 That performance made Curzan the second-fastest performer ever at that distance, behind only Maggie Mac Neil’s 100 fly time of 48.89 from last year’s NCAA championships. USA TODAY, 2 Aug. 2022 The pandemic simply accelerated the blending of our digital and physical lives, pushing organizations to satisfy the hunger users understandably had to replicate our day-to-day lives at a distance from each other. Yaniv Elmadawi, Forbes, 25 July 2022 But for many more Americans the pandemic has been episodic at best, and often experienced only at a distance. Wired, 22 July 2022 Bell’s work involves remote sensing—a process that uses reflected and emitted radiation at a distance, such as from satellites or aircraft, to detect and monitor an area’s physical characteristics. Andrew Robinson, Scientific American, 21 July 2022 That was at a distance of about a quarter-mile from the cell site, Piercy noted. Sascha Segan, PCMAG, 18 July 2022 The Good News: If someone close to you lies, hold their words at a distance. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 11 July 2022 Instead: To keep mosquitoes at bay, use natural citrus sprays, not artificial bug repellents, suggests Ms. Hillery, and set refuse receptacles upwind or at a distance. Nina Molina, WSJ, 7 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The remarks drew protests across the country and diplomatic outrage from the Muslim world, leading Modi and the BJP to distance themselves from the officials. Yashraj Sharma, NBC News, 22 July 2022 The raids included a search of the home of Terraform Labs co-founder Daniel Shin, who has tried to distance himself from the company and his fellow founder, Do Kwon. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 22 July 2022 Local organizers and activists were often quick to distance themselves from the most baldly racist derisions of Obama. New York Times, 19 July 2022 Brittany House Pictures and Nigam have tried to distance themselves from the incident and the production. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 July 2022 Ultimately, though, the association with Putin that Abramovich spent so long trying to distance himself from cost him the ability to retain the ownership of Chelsea. Rob Harris, Chicago Tribune, 26 May 2022 That decision set off a flurry of lawsuits and a parade of Democrats trying to distance themselves from the president. New York Times, 23 May 2022 The district announced on Tuesday that schools will be moving to distance learning until Jan. 21 due to absences caused by the spread of COVID-19. oregonlive, 14 Jan. 2022 It had been delivered to CCNY on November 12, 2020 -- long after the school had moved to distance learning in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. David Williams, CNN, 21 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Jornet, a 34-year-old endurance athlete from the Catalan region of Spain is considered by many to be the best ultra-distance runner of his generation. Brian Metzler, Outside Online, 15 July 2022 The problem is, every single one of them is either a short- or mid-distance light. Wes Siler, Outside Online, 27 Jan. 2022 Overall, the Escape Pursuit is a seemingly simple shoe that checks all the boxes for short- to mid-distance runs on hilly terrain. The Editors, Outside Online, 7 Nov. 2021 Thirty-six-year-old Anchorage cyclist John Lackey, riding a fat bike, blew through the 2015 Iditarod Trail Invitational human-powered ultra-distance race that began Sunday, breaking two records, reports the Alaska Dispatch News. The Editors, Outside Online, 4 Mar. 2015 Most runners should spend time lifting in this range, as heavy lifting benefits sprinters and ultra-distance runners alike. Kyle Norman, Outside Online, 10 Sep. 2020 This summer’s ultra-distance races will be the true test to see if the Flight shakes up the trail scene the way carbon super shoes did for road racing. Adam Chase, Outside Online, 11 Feb. 2021 At one point, the former employee said, Johnson called out the employee and a mid-distance runner in front of the team during a training session inside the Moshofsky Center, the school’s indoor practice facility. Ken Goe For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 2 Dec. 2021 Most of us want to rejoin our pre-mask, pre-distance lives, to celebrate this new level of freedom that has accompanied the enormous victory for vaccinations and our attentiveness to CDC mandates. John Duffy, CNN, 16 May 2021 See More

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.

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

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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Dictionary Entries Near distance



distance flag

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Distance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distance. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for distance


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on distance

Nglish: Translation of distance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distance for Arabic Speakers


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