social distancing


: the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical distance (such as six feet or more) from other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection : physical distancing
San Francisco issued recommendations for social distancing on Friday, advising residents to stay home as much as possible and avoid congregating in large groups.Taryn Luna and Melody Gutierrez
Under a new "social distancing" strategy, handshaking could be discouraged, with other, less tactile forms of greeting taking its place.Rosa Silverman
The term social distancing may be foreign to some, but the concept is one often practiced during the flu season, said Dora Anne Mills, the state's former top health official and currently chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth.Gillian Graham

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The pandemic added a raft of anxieties as cast and crews returned to work to face rigorous safety protocols such as testing, masking and social distancing. Anousha Sakouistaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 9 Jan. 2023 The government is scrambling to address the looming crisis with social distancing restrictions, vaccination campaigns and pledges to improve the supply of drugs. Olivia Wang, New York Times, 6 Jan. 2023 Technically there are no government mandates in place concerning face masks/social distancing. Karla Cripps, CNN, 5 Jan. 2023 Back during the peak of social distancing, parties felt impossible—and, sometimes, so did the future. Sheila Liming, The Atlantic, 31 Dec. 2022 Slow Streets became popular at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to give residents space to recreate while social distancing as well as a way to deter car traffic in some corridors. Jordan Parker, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Dec. 2022 This flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in more than a decade as the country grapples with its first fall in two years without COVID-19-era public health measures like masking and social distancing. Dallas News, 29 Nov. 2022 China is still using daily testing, social distancing, masks, and lockdowns to stamp out COVID infections—in stark contrast to the lax restrictions in Qatar and elsewhere. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 28 Nov. 2022 Chow, of Public Health — Seattle & King County, said this week several factors have produced a greater concern about the diseases, including a general decrease in widespread mask-wearing, social distancing and remote work and school. oregonlive, 24 Nov. 2022 See More

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

2003, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of social distancing was in 2003

Dictionary Entries Near social distancing

Cite this Entry

“Social distancing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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