Meaning of DISTANCE in English


I. dis ‧ tance 1 S2 W2 /ˈdɪstəns/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: verb : ↑ distance ; noun : ↑ distance ; adverb : ↑ distantly ; adjective : ↑ distant ]

1 . AMOUNT OF SPACE [uncountable and countable] the amount of space between two places or things

distance from/between

the distance from Chicago to Detroit

Measure the distance between the two points.

The cottage is some distance (=quite a long distance) from the road.

at a distance of 2 feet/10 metres etc

A shark can smell blood at a distance of half a kilometer.


In everyday English, when talking about how far something is, people often use an expression such as how far or a long/short way rather than the noun distance :

▪ What is the distance from Chicago to Detroit? ➔ How far is it from Chicago to Detroit?

▪ | The cottage is some distance from the road. ➔ The cottage is a long way from the road.

2 . FAR AWAY [singular] used to talk about a situation when something is far away from you in space or time

in the distance

Church bells rang in the distance (=they were far away) .

at/from a distance

We watched from a distance.

3 . UNFRIENDLY FEELING [singular] a situation in which two people do not have a close friendly relationship

distance between

There was still a distance between me and my father.

4 . keep your distance

a) to stay far enough away from someone or something to be safe:

A lighthouse on the cliff warns ships to keep their distance.

b) ( also keep somebody at a distance ) to avoid becoming too friendly with someone:

The neighbours tend to keep their distance.

5 . go the (full) distance informal to finish something you have started:

Do you think Greg will go the distance this time?

⇨ ↑ long-distance , ↑ middle distance

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ a long/great/considerable distance

The sound of guns seemed a long distance away.

▪ a short distance

I quickly walked the short distance to the car.

▪ a safe distance (=enough space to be safe)

You should keep a safe distance from the car in front.

▪ some distance (=quite a long distance)

He heard a scream some distance away.

▪ vast distances

The aircraft is able to carry huge loads over vast distances.

▪ the stopping/braking distance (=how far you travel in a car after pressing the brakes)

What’s the stopping distance at 30 miles an hour?

■ verbs

▪ travel a great/long etc distance

In some countries children must travel great distances to school each day.

▪ measure the distance between things

Now we are able to measure the distances between the planets.

▪ judge distances (=judge how much space there is between things)

Animals that hunt can judge distances very well.

■ phrases

▪ within (easy) walking distance (=near enough to walk to easily)

There are lots of restaurants within walking distance.

▪ within travelling/commuting/driving distance of something (=near enough to make travel to or from a place possible)

The job was not within travelling distance of my home.

▪ within striking distance of something (=not far from something, especially something you are going to attack)

Their troops had advanced to within striking distance of the town.

▪ within spitting distance informal (=very near something)

The ball passed within spitting distance of the goal.

▪ put some distance between yourself and somebody/something (=go quite a long way from them)

He wanted to put some distance between himself and his pursuers.

II. distance 2 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: verb : ↑ distance ; noun : ↑ distance ; adverb : ↑ distantly ; adjective : ↑ distant ]

distance yourself (from something) to say that you are not involved with someone or something, especially to avoid being connected with them:

The UNO has firmly distanced itself from the anti-government movement.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.