nautical mile


: any of various units of distance used for sea and air navigation based on the length of a minute of arc of a great circle of the earth and differing because the earth is not a perfect sphere: such as
: a British unit equal to 6080 feet (1853.2 meters)
: an international unit equal to exactly 1852 meters (6076.115 feet or 1.15 statute miles) used officially in the U.S. since July 1, 1954

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Most of the volume of sockeye caught in the fishery happens in the federal waters, which start 3 nautical miles offshore. Elizabeth Earl For Alaska Journal Of Commerce, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Apr. 2023 The river water killed almost all the oysters in the western Sound and, for the first time in memory, Spraggins of Marine Resources said, killed oysters all the way to Pascagoula, more than 100 nautical miles away, near the Alabama state line. Anita Lee, ProPublica, 22 Mar. 2023 The rules surrounding international waters and airspace are clear: National sovereignty extends no further than 12 nautical miles from the nearest coastline or border. Sébastien Roblin, CNN, 17 Mar. 2023 Russia is attempting to retrieve the remnants of the U.S. surveillance drone in the Black Sea amid reports that Moscow’s ships approached the site of the crash early Thursday — approximately 56 nautical miles southwest of Crimea’s southern tip. Leo Sands, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2023 The sailing, departing from Miami on Jan. 10, 2026, will cruise a whopping 39,722 nautical miles, stop at 77 ports of call, and help travelers gain 41 new stamps in their passports across six continents. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 7 Mar. 2023 The larger Akhir 122 and Akhir 140, meanwhile, will be available with various propulsion systems offering speeds between 27 and 30 knots and ranges from 800 to 900 nautical miles. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 15 Feb. 2023 With a basic 40-hour, all-weather endurance, and with flights integrated into civilian airspace, these long-range aircraft—some reports suggest 6,000 nautical mile ranges—are solid fits for the Indo-Pacific, ready to go toe-to-toe with China, North Korea and Iran. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 6 Jan. 2023 While countries claim all kinds of additional jurisdictions like exclusive economic zones and air defense identification zones, the 12 nautical mile rule is the only one that has indisputable weight internationally. Sébastien Roblin, CNN, 17 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nautical mile.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1830, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nautical mile was in 1830

Dictionary Entries Near nautical mile

Cite this Entry

“Nautical mile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Kids Definition

nautical mile

: any of various units of distance used for sea and air navigation equal to about 6076 feet (1852 meters)

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