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 Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in-person instruction will be available to students who struggled with distance learning resulting from coronavirus restrictions, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. USA TODAY, "Summer camp, Operation Haircut, thanking meatpackers: News from around our 50 states," 21 May 2020 In the world's fifth most populous country, where only a small fraction have access to the Internet, officials are using a fairly rudimentary tool for distance learning — the television. Susannah George, Washington Post, "In the world’s fifth most populous country, distance learning is a single television channel," 19 May 2020 Her distance from him is her most consistently reinforced moral position. Laura Marsh, The New Republic, "The Flawed Fantasy of a Different Hillary Clinton," 19 May 2020 Guests are asked to maintain your distance, limit visits to one hour, and wear a face covering. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Gatlinburg’s SkyBridge Set to Reopen on Friday," 19 May 2020 Up to $300 million for expenses related to technology and infrastructure for remote instruction and distance learning. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, "Alabama Legislature to consider Ivey’s plan for $1.8 billion in CARES Act funds," 18 May 2020 These days, Kurth posts review assignments and videos to Canvas, the online learning management system the Appleton Area School District uses for distance learning. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "2020 AP tests are just essay questions, and Wisconsin students and teachers aren't sure how to prepare," 11 May 2020 An administration official said Mr. Pence was voluntarily keeping his distance from other people and has repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 since his exposure. Frank Jordans And Nomaan Merchant, The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump officials forecast economic rebound as lockdowns lift," 10 May 2020 Fifty-three percent of shelters reported that children were struggling with distance learning. Paula Dobbyn, Anchorage Daily News, "Domestic violence shelters in Alaska see surge in hotline calls during stay-home orders," 8 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Dealing with the pandemic requires social distancing whereas battling the cyclone requires people to move to safer areas: PM @narendramodi — PMO India (@PMOIndia) May 22, 2020 The storm has now dissipated, but not before leaving a trail of disaster. Arun Devnath, Bloomberg.com, "Millions Face Virus Contagion Risk in Cyclone-Hit South Asia," 22 May 2020 More must-read international coverage from Fortune: Social distancing in the skies, temperature-checks on the ground: Welcome to the new era of air travel A world without Amazon? Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "China’s new national security law threatens Hong Kong’s friendly business climate," 22 May 2020 Social distancing on buses could limit their capacity, and CPS already runs 1,500 routes each morning. Max Londberg, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Public considering year-round school, one school visit a week, other ideas," 22 May 2020 The 68-year old Saban also appeared in a PSA in March that urged hand-washing and social-distancing with an eye toward playing football this fall. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, "Nick Saban urges mask wearing in latest Alabama PSA," 21 May 2020 The resort said its large atrium allows for distancing during activities such as scavenger hunts, canvas painting and wellness programs. Natalie Walters, Dallas News, "Gaylord Texan resort sets June 8 reopening date after COVID-19 forced its closure," 21 May 2020 Cinco Ranch’s Sophie Atkinson had similar performances to her brilliant 2019, highlighted by state qualification in the middle to distance triple. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Katy area track and field athletes ranked among best," 21 May 2020 Social distancing matters, but so do testing capacity, population density, age structure, wealth, societal collectivism, and luck. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "We Live in a Patchwork Pandemic Now," 20 May 2020 Masks, hand sanitizer, distancing are included with spot cleaning of IndyGo buses during these unprecedented times. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "IndyGo will resume regular weekday service June 1. Here's what to know.," 20 May 2020

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

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Distance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distance. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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

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