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

Some will deliver a car anywhere free, while others charge by distance after a certain number of miles. Adrienne Roberts, WSJ, "Auto Dealers, Startups Try Amazon-Style Ordering for Cars," 30 Dec. 2018 But Jewish organizations and many individuals often kept their distance, rejecting the violent confrontations, Grover and Sugerman both told Teen Vogue. Eric Ginsburg, Teen Vogue, "American Nazis and Nazi Sympathizers Have Been Around Since the 1930’s," 26 Nov. 2018 Indeed, his distance from Pablo, temporally and emotionally, has been an enormous asset. Marley Marius, Vogue, "On the Heels of an $88 Million Picasso Sale, Olivier Widmaier Picasso Talks Art, Life, and His Very Famous Grandfather," 12 Nov. 2018 During the summer months, Earth also swings out to its furthest distance from the sun, allowing it to cast a particularly long shadow. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "The Century’s Longest Lunar Eclipse Will Shroud the Moon This Month," 2 July 2018 Keep your distance, and maneuver around the flames as fast as possible. Jonathan Olivier, Outside Online, "How to Escape a Wildfire When You're Hiking," 26 June 2018 The route will displace Qatar Airways’ Doha, Qatar-Auckland, New Zealand, service as the longest in the world as measured by distance. Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY, "June route roundup: Where airlines are adding (or cutting) service," 25 June 2018 North Korea has deployed an estimated 1,000 artillery pieces and rockets along the 248-kilomter (155-mile) border, putting the Seoul metropolitan area within its striking distance. Hyung-jin Kim, chicagotribune.com, "Koreas discuss removing North's artillery from tense border," 25 June 2018 Another marathoner, Wilmington graphics designer Nicolle Renick, was inspired by distance running as a teenager, when her father took her to see the Boston Marathon. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, "As drug development flounders, people fearing Alzheimer’s embrace lifestyle changes," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Others, like Rice University professor Michael Deem, are working to distance themselves from He. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "CRISPR Baby Scientist Could Face Death Penalty, Colleague Fears," 8 Jan. 2019 In a postelection press conference on Wednesday, Mr. Trump chided the slate of suburban Republicans who sought to distance themselves from the White House during their campaigns. Janet Hook, WSJ, "What the Midterm Election Shows: America’s Two Parties Live In Divergent Worlds," 7 Nov. 2018 There have been some halfhearted attempts by Democratic leaders to distance themselves from Ms. Tlaib’s remarks and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s plans, but the reality is that both women are expressing views that fall well within the party mainstream. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats Contend With the ‘Anger Translator’," 8 Jan. 2019 The orphanages are only the latest example of Beijing's efforts to systematically distance young Muslims in Xinjiang from their families and culture. Yanan Wang And Dake Kang, Fox News, "Empty places at the table: Uighur children missing in China," 20 Sep. 2018 And thus, the saga of big name chefs distancing themselves from Michelin continues. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "Singapore's Newest Restaurant Doesn't Want Michelin to Review It," 13 Sep. 2018 Papa John's needs to distance itself from Schnatter's image, said Barron Harvey, dean of Howard University's business school. Candice Choi, chicagotribune.com, "Papa John is gone, but his image is still entwined with pizza chain," 12 July 2018 Several who have been known for hard-line immigration stances in the past felt the need to distance themselves from Trump. Christina Bellantoni, latimes.com, "Trump's immigration policy puts California Republicans in difficult position," 25 June 2018 Matt Harringer, a spokesman for Graham, said she's placed her Graham Companies holdings in a trust in order to distance herself from the management of her investment. David Smiley And Mary Ellen Klas, miamiherald, "Levine says he'll place his assets in a blind trust if he's elected governor," 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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Statistics for distance

Last Updated

16 Feb 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 \

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

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irregularly rounded

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