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 Officers stopped the woman a short distance away and took her back to the store to be identified. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, 6 June 2021 Their efforts were worth it — audiences snapped up tickets to events that allowed social distance, fresh air and fun. Domenica Bongiovanni, The Indianapolis Star, 4 June 2021 Tavatanakit, 21, ranks fourth in driving distance (281 yards). Nick Lozito, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 June 2021 The convenience of the metric scale and its application to a variety of measurements—distance, volume, mass, electricity—meant that more and more colonies adopted it as a standard for trade. Phil Jaekl, Time, 1 June 2021 The distance between one second and the next felt stretched out by the hands of some enormous being. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 31 May 2021 When the summer was over, distance and misunderstanding eventually split them apart. Star Tribune, 30 May 2021 Walkable, bikeable distance to major stadiums, Eastern Market, restaurants, DIA, Wayne State University. Judy Rose, Detroit Free Press, 29 May 2021 Participants cycled nonstop on exercise bikes to cover 4,700 miles – the distance from London to Delhi – in 48 hours. Shafi Musaddique, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Fringe limited the number of seats at each performance as a way to allow patrons to distance as a COVID-19 precaution. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, 30 May 2021 Do my children still have to wear a face mask and socially distance if they are vaccinated? Robbie Whelan, WSJ, 27 May 2021 The star’s limited range and overreliance on glamorous, femme-fatale-like stylings distance us from the dubious, seemingly complex Gillars, an inherently hard character to embrace at best. Los Angeles Times, 27 May 2021 Lawmakers have been meeting at the civic center because there is plenty of space to distance themselves as a precaution against the coronavirus. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 21 May 2021 For example, the CDC said people should physically distance, but that is often impossible in food-processing plants or in the cars that people share to get to work. Amy Maxmen, Scientific American, 13 May 2021 In halting the distribution of the book to retailers, Norton took a rare step to distance the company from the author. BostonGlobe.com, 22 Apr. 2021 Metro Public Health Department still strongly recommends that unvaccinated people wear masks when in crowds, indoors and when unable to socially distance. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 17 May 2021 The Biden Administration will also have to resist pressure from its left flank to distance the U.S. from a key ally engaging in self-defense. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 The Kobuk 440 was Hanke’s third mid-distance race attempt and his second scratch. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Apr. 2021 Thankfully, the North Face makes beefier, more affordable versions of the shoe for all manner of training, racing, and ultra-distance days. The Editors, Outside Online, 4 Mar. 2021

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

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distance. Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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 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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