Definition of altitude in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈaltəˌt(y)o͞od/
(abbreviation alt.)


1The height of an object or point in relation to sea level or ground level: flight data including airspeed and altitude flying at altitudes over 15,000 feet
More example sentences
  • In its upper reaches, climbers are at heights equal to the cruising altitudes for passenger jets.
  • Therefore, the airplane may not be controllable at lower altitudes and airspeeds.
  • Air at very high altitude smells completely different to lower altitudes.
height, elevation, distance above the sea/ground;
1.1Great height: the mechanism can freeze at altitude
More example sentences
  • The material soaks up water that freezes at altitude and can cause delamination that may not be readily visible.
  • Both nations have struggled in recent years while playing at altitude, where the thin air hands an advantage to those acclimatised to the conditions.
  • Most people don’t sleep well at altitude.
1.2 Astronomy The apparent height of a celestial object above the horizon, measured as an angle.
Example sentences
  • A scale along the staff showed the altitude, or angle above the horizon, of the body.
  • Also, on any given day the Sun circles the sky at the same apparent altitude.
  • Like other nautical instruments its primary function was to measure the altitude of the sun or a star above the horizon.
1.3 Geometry The length of the perpendicular line from a vertex to the opposite side of a figure.
Example sentences
  • Let y be the altitude of the triangular cross section of the wedge in Figure 6a cut by a plane at distance x from the base.
  • This is a good deal like having a theory that tells us that the area of a plane figure is one-half the base times the altitude, without telling us for what figures this holds.



Pronunciation: /ˈaltəˌt(y)o͞od(ə)n(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Eastern birds may migrate south, but western populations are more often altitudinal migrants, moving from the mountains into nearby lowlands in winter.
  • However, they commonly make altitudinal movements as seasons change and in dry seasons they may move beyond their normal range in search of food.
  • Most species are sedentary, although some make nomadic wanderings and altitudinal shifts in response to food availability.


Late Middle English: from Latin altitudo, from altus 'high'.

  • Altitude is from Latin altitudo, from altus ‘high’. The latter is also the source of altar (Old English), a raised structure for worship, enhance (Middle English), originally ‘make higher’; exalt (Late Middle English), with ex- ‘out, upwards’; and haughty (mid 16th century), from altus via French haut.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: al·ti·tude

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.