social distance


: 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.
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

Examples of social distance in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Experts continue to agree that proper masking, social distance guidelines, vaccines, and boosters remain the best preventative measures against the contraction and spread of COVID-19. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 26 Oct. 2023 Freeland worries about the increasing political influence of the superrich and the growing social distance between them and ordinary people. Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs, 22 Apr. 2013 The question for the pandemic thriller, or pandemic noir, was how people would continue to do awful things to one another while maintaining social distance. Lisa Levy, Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2023 Like a lot of us, Neil Young went into seclusion in 2020, looking for social distance and viral safety in the wilderness as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the planet. Steve Appleford, SPIN, 1 July 2023 Prior says wearing masks and avoiding crowds are common requests, as are maintaining social distance, locating a meeting space with improved ventilation, or gathering outdoors. Julia Chan, CNN, 9 Mar. 2023 This year, expect to see webcams repurposed to monitor offices, reminding people to maintain social distance and also recording any potentially infectious interactions. IEEE Spectrum, 6 Jan. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'social distance.' 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

1824, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of social distance was in 1824

Dictionary Entries Near social distance

Cite this Entry

“Social distance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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