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

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

But Aziz said the explosion occurred some distance from where Ghani was addressing a crowd of about 2,200. Washington Post, "Authorities: Separate attacks in Afghanistan kill 48," 18 Sep. 2019 Lewis Pugh, a British-South African distance swimmer, took to Twitter on Tuesday to congratulate Thomas. Brian Pascus, CBS News, "American cancer survivor swims across English Channel four times in a row to set new record," 17 Sep. 2019 But Aziz said the explosion occurred some distance from where Ghani was addressing a crowd of about 2,200. Rahim Faiez, Anchorage Daily News, "Suicide bombers kill scores in separate attacks in Afghanistan," 17 Sep. 2019 At distances greater than 87,000 miles (140,000 km) from Saturn, the ring material’s self-gravity trumps the gas giant’s tidal forces. Mike Wall, Scientific American, "Saturn’s Rings May Be Ancient After All," 17 Sep. 2019 The range from Yemen was also far beyond the distance of anything the Houthis have ever done, the officials said. Jordan Fabian, Fortune, "After Saudi Oil Attack, Trump Pledges Help for Middle East Allies," 16 Sep. 2019 But sedentary readers shouldn’t feel heartbroken—the researchers emphasized that changes in heart shape are likely reversible, with the incorporation of endurance activities like distance running and swimming over many years. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "Running—or sitting—can change the shape of your heart," 16 Sep. 2019 In our hot, summer climate, my back gets uncomfortably hot and moist when driving distances. Ray Magliozzi, courant.com, "Car Talk: One small sweat for mankind," 16 Sep. 2019 No, this is a battery-electric vehicle with a definite niche, for people who live in cities where journeys are measured in time rather than distance. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Dear Honda, this adorable electric car needs to come to the US," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And the party is cribbing from the same playbook Democrats used in the midterms, where candidates distanced themselves from the national party and sunk into messaging on health care. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, "On the airwaves, NC special election sounds a lot like 2018," 9 Sep. 2019 Harris’ defense counsel spent most of the trial trying to distance his client from Almena, and minimize his role in the oversight of the warehouse’s day-to-day operations. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, "Ghost Ship verdict: Jury acquits one defendant, deadlocks on second in warehouse fire that killed 36," 5 Sep. 2019 Learn to distance yourself and not get tied up in their games. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 27 Aug. 2019 Companies from luxury fashion brands to bubble tea shops are under pressure to distance themselves from protesters and declare their support for the ruling Communist Party's position on Hong Kong. Author: Yanan Wang, Christopher Bodeen, Anchorage Daily News, "Hong Kong airport shut down amid pro-democracy protest," 12 Aug. 2019 Influencers and celebrities started canceling their participation; the international community moved to distance itself; and the whole shebang was finally called off amid news of Chinese consumers posting videos of themselves burning their Dolces. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "The Resurrection of Dolce & Gabbana," 12 June 2019 Weight Watchers wanted to distance itself from diet culture and align itself with wellness and body positivity. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "It costs a lot for a huge company like Dunkin’ Donuts to change its name. So what’s the payoff?," 25 Oct. 2018 Casey, now 32, has distanced herself from her family and has tried to move on from her daughter’s death and the subsequent murder accusations. Steve Helling, PEOPLE.com, "Casey Anthony No Longer Wears Her Daughter's Ashes Around Her Neck — But Her Mom Still Does," 4 July 2018 Monday's announcement follows Weed's earlier calls for the industry to distance itself from dishonest practices and rebuild consumer trust. Rachel Siegel, chicagotribune.com, "Unilever's plan to combat the 'dark side' of social media advertising," 19 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 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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Statistics for distance

Last Updated

12 Oct 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 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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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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