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 Bezos made no direct mention of the divorce in his annual letter, maintaining distance between the company’s operations and his personal life. Washington Post, "Bezos Rebuts Warren’s Amazon Breakup Call in Antitrust Defense," 18 Sep. 2019 Yet the rodeo also seems to have a pull that overcomes the distance between urban and rural Oregon, drawing many Portlanders to the event each year. oregonlive, "Pendleton Round-Up showcases the other side of Oregon," 14 Sep. 2019 The features stretch over a total of 430 parsecs (1,400 light years), about 5% of the distance between the Solar System and the Galaxy’s centre. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, "Giant “Bubbles” Spotted Around Milky Way’s Black Hole," 11 Sep. 2019 This corresponds with the distance between Kiriath-Jearim, Abu Ghosh and Jerusalem. Fox News, "The Biblical town of Emmaus, which is linked to Jesus’ resurrection and the Ark of the Covenant, may have been found," 10 Sep. 2019 Before the second seating at 8 p.m., a server rearranges bar stools, measuring the distance between them with a single chopstick. Fortune, "Philadelphia’s Swank New Omakase Restaurant Is Elevated in Every Aspect," 8 Sep. 2019 My placenta had moved less than .2 centimeters, bringing the grand total of distance between it and my cervix to .6 centimeters – not even half the length of a pea. Helena Andrews-dyer, The Denver Post, "Finding the joy in black motherhood," 7 Sep. 2019 The trip will be about a quarter million miles (about 400,000 km) out and a quarter million back, and last week, SpaceX covered a tiny piece of that distance—about 500 ft. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "The Amazon Fires, From an Extraterrestrial Perspective," 6 Sep. 2019 My placenta had moved less than .2 centimeters, bringing the grand total of distance between it and my cervix to .6 centimeters - not even half the length of a pea. al, "I wanted to read an article about black motherhood that wasn’t a horror story. So I wrote it.," 6 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb These days, companies like VMware, which is part of the Dell Technologies family of enterprise firms, are trying to distance themselves from the heat. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, "VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger: Bitcoin Is ‘Bad For Humanity’," 26 Aug. 2019 Ito was one of several academics in recent weeks to try to distance himself from Epstein. Deirdre Fernandes, BostonGlobe.com, "At MIT, more fallout from the university’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein," 20 Aug. 2019 Corporate sponsors and rugby authorities have tried to distance themselves. Rhiannon Hoyle, WSJ, "Australian Rugby Star’s Anti-Gay Post Exposes Fault Lines Over Religious Freedom," 30 June 2019 Lennon had once tried to distance himself from the mania and adulation that the Beatles inspired, to debunk the myth of the four lads who changed the world. David Gambacorta, Longreads, "Took You By Surprise: John and Paul’s Lost Reunion," 25 June 2019 Early in his working life, Rob Braun tried to distance himself from television. Max Londberg, Cincinnati.com, "Rob Braun, longtime news anchor in Cincinnati, to leave WKRC Local 12, GM says," 18 June 2019 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

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

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for distance

The first known use of distance was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for distance


How to pronounce distance (audio)

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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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).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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