social distance


Definition of social distance

1 : the degree of acceptance or rejection of social interaction between individuals and especially those belonging to different social groups (such as those based on race, ethnicity, class, or gender) There is a very large body of sociological research showing that a lessening of social distance among groups typically decreases prejudice and improves the ability to understand the concerns of the "other."— Jean Reith Schroedel The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether an elective psychiatric course with outcomes designed to target stigmatization and dispel myths could reduce student social distance toward patients with severe mental illness.— Bethany A. Dipaula et al.
2 medical : the avoidance of close contact with other people during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection If this year's … flu becomes more severe, additional steps may be taken to prevent spread of the virus. These include finding ways to increase social distance in classrooms, or holding outdoor classes, and utilizing distance learning methods.— Debra Winters 'Saturday Night Live' host Daniel Craig and Kate McKinnon had fun with maintaining 'social distance' and spraying antiseptic in a sketch about soap opera love in the coronavirus era.— Mary Papenfuss — compare physical distance

First Known Use of social distance

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of social distance was in 1824

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Cite this Entry

“Social distance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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