dis·​tant | \ˈdis-tənt \

Definition of distant 

1a : separated in space : away a mile distant

b : situated at a great distance (see distance entry 1 sense 2c) : far-off a distant galaxy

c : having a great amount of separation between each other : separated by a great distance from each other : far apart visiting distant places distant campuses

d : far behind finished a distant third

2 : separated in a relationship other than spatial a distant cousin the distant past

3 : different in kind from two very distant backgrounds

4 : reserved or aloof in personal relationship : cold was distant and distracted

5a : going a long distance distant voyages

b : concerned with remote (see remote entry 1 sense 2) things distant thoughts

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from distant

distantly adverb
distantness noun

Examples of distant in a Sentence

In the distant past, dinosaurs roamed the earth. The day I left home is now a distant memory.

Recent Examples on the Web

The numbers were high in part because people, including distant relatives and long-ago friends, called in with incomplete information, Crum said. Janie Har, The Seattle Times, "AP Explains: The hunt for missing, dead in California fire," 21 Nov. 2018 Gelernt said some procedures — such as DNA testing, fingerprinting and requests for other information — were designed for releasing children to distant relatives, not to parents. Time, "U.S. Will Reunite Only Half of Young Migrant Children by a Tuesday Deadline," 10 July 2018 Daniel Everett, a linguist, claims that Pirahã, an Amazonian language, lacks recursion, and that its speakers do not talk about the distant past or future at all. The Economist, "What Koko the gorilla could and couldn’t do," 5 July 2018 There was a time, in the not too distant past, when LeBron James’ recruiting exploits matched his transcendent play. Ben Golliver, SI.com, "Paul George’s Quick Decision Begs Question: Are LeBron’s Best Recruiting Days Behind Him?," 1 July 2018 But scientists weren’t sure exactly how long days lasted in the distant past or how day length is changing now. Denise Chow /, NBC News, "Days on Earth are getting longer, but don't get too excited," 26 June 2018 Said to be a distant relative of the Pablo Sandoval who played for the Giants from 2008 to 2014, New Panda has enlivened the clubhouse and sparkled afield. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "In a year of ups and downs, Giants and A’s seek a sense of momentum," 24 June 2018 Two hobbyists who run the site, a publicly searchable platform that lets users post raw genetic-data files to try to find distant relatives, said that the authorities never contacted them. Fortune, "DNA Detectives Are Searching for Killers in Your Family Tree," 14 June 2018 Eigenbrode says that fact strengthens the evidence that the region in Gale crater could have been habitable in the distant past. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Chasing Signs of Life, Curiosity Rover Discovers Organic Building Blocks on Mars," 7 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of distant

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for distant

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin distant-, distans, present participle of distare to stand apart, be distant, from dis- + stare to stand — more at stand

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about distant

Statistics for distant

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distant

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for distant



English Language Learners Definition of distant

: existing or happening far away in space : separated by space

: far away in time : happening far in the past or far into the future

: having to do with something that is not related to what is happening where you are or at the present time


dis·​tant | \ˈdi-stənt \

Kids Definition of distant

1 : existing or happening at a place far away a distant planet distant thunder

2 : far away in time the distant future

3 : not closely related distant cousins

4 : cold entry 1 sense 5, unfriendly a distant manner

Other Words from distant

distantly adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on distant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for distant

Spanish Central: Translation of distant

Nglish: Translation of distant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distant for Arabic Speakers

Comments on distant

What made you want to look up distant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to enclose within walls

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!