ki·​lo·​me·​ter | \ kə-ˈlä-mə-tər How to pronounce kilometer (audio) , ki-; ˈki-lə-ˌmē-tər How to pronounce kilometer (audio) \

Definition of kilometer

: a metric unit of length equal to 1000 meters — see Metric System Table

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How do you pronounce kilometer?: Usage Guide

In North American speech kilometer is most often pronounced with primary stress on the second syllable. This pronunciation is also heard frequently in British speech. Those who object to second syllable stress say that the first syllable should be stressed in accord with the stress patterns of centimeter, millimeter, etc. However, the pronunciation of kilometer does not parallel that of other metric compounds. From 1828 to 1841 Noah Webster indicated only second syllable stress, and his successor added a first syllable stress variant in the first Merriam-Webster dictionary of 1847. Thus, both pronunciations are venerable. Most scientists use second syllable stress, although first syllable stress seems to occur with a higher rate of frequency among scientists than among nonscientists.

Did You Know?

A kilometer is equal to about 62/100 of a mile, and a mile is equal to about 1.61 kilometers. The U.S. has been slow to adopt metric measures, which are used almost everywhere else in the world. Though our car speedometers are often marked in both miles and kilometers, the U.S. and Great Britain are practically the only developed nations that still show miles rather than kilometers on their road signs. But even in the U.S., footraces are usually measured in meters or kilometers, like the Olympic races. Runners normally abbreviate kilometer to K: "a 5K race" (3.1 miles), "the 10K run" (6.2 miles), and so on.

Examples of kilometer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Today, her main sports passion is ultrarunning, entering (and often winning) trail races of 50 to 100 kilometers (31 to 62 miles), with a few 100-milers mixed in. San Diego Union-Tribune, "When it comes to fitness, she’s in it for the long run," 4 June 2019 The other eight launch tubes are packed with SULA89 drones, which carry 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of high explosive and fly at speeds of up to 180 kilometers (111 miles) an hour. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This New Armored Vehicle Can Launch a Swarm of Killer Drones," 16 May 2019 Two-hundred ten, came the answer—not miles, but kilometers per hour. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Why the EU is Cracking Down on Speedy Supercars," 11 Apr. 2019 The SEALs' Facebook page said that since Sunday night, the divers had reached a bend where the kilometer-long (half-mile) passage splits in two directions. Author: Tassanee Vejpongsa, Anchorage Daily News, "Thai rescuers find missing boys and soccer coach alive in cave," 2 July 2018 The SEALs’ Facebook page said that since Sunday night, the divers had reached a bend where the kilometer-long (half-mile) passage splits in two directions., "After missing for a week, 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach found alive in cave," 2 July 2018 That evening, three more people — a mother, father, and one of their three children — died in an explosion at an apartment block in Sidoarjo, just kilometers from the Surabaya churches. Joseph Hincks, Time, "Indonesia Suffers Its Worst Terrorist Attack in a Decade. Here's What to Know About the Latest Wave of Violence," 14 May 2018 The missiles have a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), placing Israel and U.S. military bases within range. Nasser Karimi, The Seattle Times, "Iranians mark anniversary of victory day in 1979 revolution," 11 Feb. 2019 Filin can also allegedly suppress military electronics that operate in the optical spectrum, including infrared laser rangefinders, night-vision goggles, and anti-tank missile launchers at ranges of up to five kilometers (3.1 miles). Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Russian Navy Is Fitting Ships with Barf-Inducing Lights," 4 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kilometer.' 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 kilometer

1810, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kilometer

French kilomètre, from kilo- + mètre meter

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Statistics for kilometer

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for kilometer

The first known use of kilometer was in 1810

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English Language Learners Definition of kilometer

: a unit of length equal to 1,000 meters


ki·​lo·​me·​ter | \ ki-ˈlä-mə-tər How to pronounce kilometer (audio) , ˈki-lə-ˌmē-tər\

Kids Definition of kilometer

: a metric unit of length equal to 1000 meters


variants: or chiefly British kilometre \ ˈkil-​ə-​ˌmēt-​ər How to pronounce kilometre (audio) , kə-​ˈläm-​ət-​ər How to pronounce kilometre (audio) \

Medical Definition of kilometer

: 1000 meters

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More from Merriam-Webster on kilometer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kilometer

Spanish Central: Translation of kilometer

Nglish: Translation of kilometer for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of kilometer for Arabic Speakers

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