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 After moving a safe distance away, the ship's flight computer fired the ship's braking thrusters for about 16-and-a-half minutes starting at 2:03 a.m. Sunday. William Harwood, CBS News, "SpaceX Crew Dragon astronauts come home with rare pre-dawn splashdown," 2 May 2021 In his most recent effort 14 nights ago, the distance stakes winner finished a solid third against the lone speed winner Oh Jerry, who is a six-time local winner here. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Baffert does it again at the Kentucky Derby," 2 May 2021 There's still fair distance to travel to close the remaining gaps and those gaps are over what sanctions the United States and other countries will roll back. ABC News, "'This Week' Transcript 5-2-21: Jake Sullivan, Sen. John Barrasso, Adm. Mike Mullen & Dr. Ashish Jha," 2 May 2021 However, Mars is at such a great distance away that it is directly affected by the limitation of the speed of light. Curtis Roelle, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Star Points: Up and away into the wild butterscotch yonder of Mars," 1 May 2021 Then, Ragland was the one who made a late push in the final 100 meters but couldn’t make up the distance down the final stretch. Phillip Steinmetz, The Courier-Journal, "Madison Central’s Ciara O’Shea, St. Xavier’s Nolan Hester win Dream Mile titles," 1 May 2021 What’s helped to keep him comfortable is being aware and maintaining a safe distance. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Mask wearing outdoors still evokes range of emotions, even with looser guidelines," 1 May 2021 Opelika’s top performance came in the triple jump, with LeDamian Rowell winning with a leap of 49-3 ¼, besting Valley’s Jacquez Trammel, who had the same distance but a shorter second jump. Arthur L. Mack, al, "4A-7A Track: Scottsboro athletes lead Friday’s record-breaking day in Gulf Shores," 1 May 2021 The bill also does not stipulate any distance that poll watchers must keep from election workers. New York Times, "G.O.P. Seeks to Empower Poll Watchers, Raising Intimidation Worries," 1 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Starting May 1, Delta will open up all seats to passengers, a full year after the airline started blocking the middle seat to give travelers more room to socially distance. Alison Fox, Travel + Leisure, "Delta to Stop Blocking Middle Seats Starting May 1," 31 Mar. 2021 Graduates will be required to socially distance, wear masks, and follow health guidelines, the e-mail said. BostonGlobe.com, "UMass Amherst plans to hold four in-person commencements in May with no guests," 20 Mar. 2021 Advocates say some in the community also struggle to socially distance because of the largely social culture. Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY, "Arab Americans, deemed 'white' in government records, are suffering an unseen COVID-19 crisis," 28 Feb. 2021 They’re even asked to socially distance from their own roommates in their apartments. Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune, "How the Utah Grizzlies want to navigate a unique season while also trying to win a title," 10 Dec. 2020 Tents will be set up 6 feet apart and everyone onsite will be required to socially distance. al, "The outdoor Market at Pepper Place returns April 10. Here’s what to expect," 7 Apr. 2021 This past year, providers scrambled to accommodate the need to socially distance. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Robert Gehrke: Utah needs a workable, certain path for homeless residents, even if that means another shelter," 5 Apr. 2021 Schools' ability to distance students was a major reason the district and school board elected to use a hybrid schedule, splitting kids into two groups with each attending class two days a week. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, "Following smooth elementary return, JCPS middle and high schools to reopen Monday," 4 Apr. 2021 Couple this with a feeling of social isolation and the need to distance, and re-enter: walking. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "Going for walks — even reluctantly — can help disrupt a sedentary pandemic lifestyle," 20 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The Kobuk 440 was Hanke’s third mid-distance race attempt and his second scratch. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "“Send help now”: Two mushers describe the events that led to their rescue from the Kobuk 440 race trail," 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, "The Gear Our Editors Loved in February," 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

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Distance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distance. Accessed 15 May. 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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