Meaning of DISTANCE in English


I. ˈdistən(t)s noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English distaunce, from Old French destance, distance, from Latin distantia, from distant-, distans (present participle of distare to stand apart, be distant) + -ia -y — more at distant

1. obsolete : discord , dissension , quarrel



(1) : a portion of time between two events or between an event and the present : interval

the distance between birth and death

not sure he could endure the distance to the time of his release from captivity

(2) : separation in time

it is impossible to judge, at this distance , whether most of these cases would pass for willful murder at the present day — G.G.Coulton

b. : the degree or amount of separation between two points, lines, surfaces, or objects in geometrical space measured along the shortest path joining them

the distance between the two houses was exactly one mile

the distance between the eyes varies with individuals

(1) : the space between troops in ranks, vehicles, or units measured from front to rear — contrasted with interval

(2) : the space between the foremasts of adjacent ships in column, line, or line of bearing

(3) : the amount of space between the eye and an object of perception

c. : an extent of space measured linearly along a route : the length especially of a surface or road traveled or to be traveled

the Gambia river, navigable for ocean vessels for a distance of 150 miles — Americana Annual

he did not know the distance he had walked

whoever guided the Stevens Party in 1844 would have kept as close as possible to the point of this hill in order to save distance — G.R.Stewart

a considerable distance of highway

followed for a distance by a stray dog

d. : an extent or degree of figurative advance or movement away or along from a point considered primary or original

they carried Puritan severity quite a distance — John Gould

the firm is now quite a distance from what it was when it was founded

e. : a portion (as of landscape) extended in breadth and depth especially viewable all at once : expanse

a distance of field, woods, and diluted November sky did indeed stretch without any other feature — Elizabeth Bowen

a country of flat plains and great distances

f. in racing

(1) : course , route

was able to run the distance in record time

(2) : an extent or length of the track marked by a post or flag placed in the last part of a racecourse which a horse in a heat race must reach by the time the winner crosses the finish line or be disqualified for later heats


a. : the quality or state of being distant or spatially remote

distance lends enchantment

b. : remoteness in nonspatial relationships : the quality or state of being distant or not near or not close in ways other than spatial

the gradual elimination of the distance between a character and a writer's sympathy for that character — J.B.Ludwig


(1) : personal and especially emotional or moral separation or lack of involvement : absence of intimacy or familiarity

the sensitive young hero, shiveringly conscious of his distance from the school community around him — Anthony Quinton

also : coldness , reserve

an unusual distance between the two formerly inseparable friends

(2) : the degree of separation from immediate succession or close blood relationship

the distance between the duke and the throne was not great

a great distance between the two cousins

(3) : aesthetic distance

trying to preserve the distance between the play and the audience

c. : difference , disparity

the spiritual, economic, and social distances between city dweller and farmer — American Guide Series: Minnesota


a. : a distant point or region or its representation in drawing or painting : a point not near or close

the house was at a distance from his work

I can see things from a great distance , and look back across a fairly wide gulf of years — Harold Nicolson

b. : the representation of distance or spatial separation in drawing or painting : perspective ; also : the background of a distant view — often used in plural

shaded distances

- go the distance

- keep one's distance

- know one's distance

II. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )


a. : to place or keep at a distance

to one who contrives to distance himself from contemporary emotional disputation — Times Literary Supplement

apartness in space is the most common factor in such distancing of the potential aesthetic object — Hunter Mead

b. : to cause to appear remote or as if at a distance


a. : to leave far behind : outstrip

they both intended to take the road to Irkutsk, and being well mounted hoped to distance the Emir's scouts — W.H.G.Kingston

specifically : to beat by a distance in racing

b. : to surpass greatly

3. : to declare disqualified for later heats in racing because of losing one heat by a distance or more

III. adjective

: intended for or designed to facilitate the clearer perception of things at a distance

distance glasses

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.