kilometer

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 The first wave will be unobtrusive sensors with onboard computing and wireless radios with a range of as much as a kilometer. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "Here Comes ‘Smart Dust,’ the Tiny Computers That Pull Power from the Air," 8 Nov. 2018 Fire spokeswoman Kate Kramer says Thursday that the majority of the 15-square-mile (39-square-kilometer) blaze is burning in wildland areas. Fox News, "More evacuations called as Southern California fire surges," 9 Aug. 2018 President Barack Obama’s Interior Department improperly canceled the nearly 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) lease adjacent to Glacier National Park in 2016, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., said this week. Matthew Brown, The Seattle Times, "Judge restores energy lease on Montana land sacred to tribes," 25 Sep. 2018 Which is, say, the Karman line at 100 kilometers, which is an arbitrary point at which the atmosphere is fairly thin. Ryan D'agostino, Popular Mechanics, "Elon Musk: The Popular Mechanics Interview," 25 Feb. 2019 In late November and December that figure had been estimated at between 400 and 600 square kilometers, according to officials briefed on the matter. Matthew Lee, The Seattle Times, "US commander: IS hold in Syria, Iraq on verge of collapse," 5 Feb. 2019 That's significant, says Bruce Howe, a physical oceanographer at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, who leads a task force exploring how to stud new ocean cables with seismic, pressure, and temperature sensors, every 50 to 100 kilometers. Eric Hand, Science | AAAS, "Seafloor cables that carry the world’s internet traffic can also detect earthquakes," 14 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of kilometer

1810, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kilometer

French kilomètre, from kilo- + mètre meter

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about kilometer

Statistics for kilometer

Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for kilometer

The first known use of kilometer was in 1810

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for kilometer

kilometer

noun

English Language Learners Definition of kilometer

: a unit of length equal to 1,000 meters

kilometer

noun
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

kilometer

noun
ki·​lo·​me·​ter
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on kilometer

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

WORD OF THE DAY

not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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