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

Also important to the exterior look: a new window here, and no window there, plus the proper landscaping and removal of a low wall that had been installed to keep fans at a distance. Los Angeles Times, "The 7 very groovy highlights from ‘A Very Brady Renovation’," 9 Sep. 2019 This is why the best work BFF may exist at some distance from your day to day. Cate Huston, Quartz at Work, "Every manager needs the magic of a work BFF," 6 Sep. 2019 Nagy defended his decision to go for it because the team wasn’t at the distance that special teams coach Chris Tabor determined was their field-goal range for that situation. Kalyn Kahler, SI.com, "A Clumsy Start to the 2019 NFL Season for the Packers and Bears," 6 Sep. 2019 The improvements include standoff bombs that destroy enemy air defense systems at a distance, allowing the Warthog close in and destroy enemy tanks up close. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The A-10 Warthog Is Getting Some Lethal Upgrades," 6 Sep. 2019 Fields will continue to receive the ball from Myers at a distance more often than not. Nathan Baird, cleveland.com, "How Ohio State’s offense could benefit from additional snaps under center," 4 Sep. 2019 But for Del Rey, comedy and irony rarely have their usual effects of keeping emotion at a distance. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Lana Del Rey’s Obituary for America," 30 Aug. 2019 Another video taken at a distance from a nearby parking lot appears to show at least two counterprotesters throwing projectiles at the shuttle bus while it is stopped on the off-ramp. oregonlive.com, "1 hammer, 1 ‘antifa mob chase’: A closer look at Portland’s viral protest moments," 18 Aug. 2019 But at roughly the sun’s distance from the core, the galaxy begins to bend, flexing upward in one direction and flopping down in the other. Nadia Drake, National Geographic, "The Milky Way is warped around the edges, new star map confirms," 1 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Other examples of the efforts to distance MIT from Epstein include emails between undisclosed participants discussing taking Epstein off an event invite list. Kristina Sgueglia, CNN, "Top MIT official resigns in wake of explosive report on donations facilitated by Jeffrey Epstein," 8 Sep. 2019 Last week, those firms issued statements distancing themselves from a full-page ad supporting the protests that appeared in a Hong Kong newspaper. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "As Hong Kong Firms Fall in Line Over Protests, Some Workers Push Back," 22 Aug. 2019 Halperin’s co-conspirators have, over the past day, attempted to distance themselves from the project or otherwise justify their participation in it. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, "The Beltway Book of the Damned," 19 Aug. 2019 After the Times’s story, action—aside from a few organizations distancing themselves from Meier—was measured. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Inside the AIA’s efforts to address #MeToo," 5 Aug. 2019 The company’s brass seem to be following the direction of other tech companies by distancing themselves from anything other than providing a service, and claiming that not providing said service to everyone is somehow discriminatory. Tanya Edwards, refinery29.com, "Inside Wayfair Employees' Protest Of The Company's Business With Migrant Detention Centers," 30 June 2019 But he’s already set the tone, set the pace, set the rules of the game. Instead of distancing themselves from Roy Moore’s anger and judgment and puritanical righteous wrongs, his GOP challengers instead determined to out-Roy Roy. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al.com, "Roy Moore already won," 20 June 2019 Alan Greenspan, despite riding her ethic of deregulation to an economy-crippling housing crisis, eventually distanced himself from the movement. Alexander Sammon, The New Republic, "The Last of the Ayn Rand Acolytes," 14 Aug. 2019 Ensign moved out of the C Street house, and his fellow Republican senators reportedly distanced themselves from him. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Patriarchal Allure of The Family," 14 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

17 Sep 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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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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