Definition of distance in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈdistəns/


1An amount of space between two things or people: I bicycled the short distance home the distance between front and rear wheels
More example sentences
  • Minimum safe distances are computed by adding the maximum pattern radius plus three circular error probable.
  • Carrying luggage, changing planes and walking long distances are hassles that most travelers must face.
  • American customers travel long distances at speed on smooth, straight highways.
interval, space, span, gap, extent;
length, width, breadth, depth;
range, reach
1.1The condition of being far off; remoteness: distance makes things look small figurative a significant distance between German and Allied understandings of the war
More example sentences
  • There is too much distance, a tragic remoteness in our fellowship.
  • It's hard for me to tell from this distance what condition the fields are in and the absolute best plan of attack.
  • They're some significant distance away from being able to create it on their own, even if they can create it.
1.2A far-off point or place: watching them from a distance
More example sentences
  • I only ever saw him on TV, or at a distance in the town centre.
  • Scotland, then, is a place to be viewed at a distance.
  • From a distance, the village looked like a holiday trailer park surrounded by grotesque, wind-sculptured trees.
1.3 (the distance) The more remote part of what is visible or discernible: I heard police sirens in the distance they sped off into the distance
More example sentences
  • I craned my neck to try and see into the distance but all I could see was a bunch of lights in the distance.
  • A couple of dots in the distance were visible on the ground.
  • Stretching, Jim looked around, taking note of the large land masses visible in the distance to either side of them.
far away/off, afar, just in view;
on the horizon
dated yonder
1.4An interval of time: a distance of more than twenty years
More example sentences
  • For others, the distance of three years makes what happened feel both implausible and unforgivable.
  • But I cannot look upon these plans at a distance of six months, without feeling that past events ought to teach me how little I can depend on the future.
  • In my memory there is a stillness, a quietness about her that I can still feel, that is almost visible, even in the distance of many years.
2The full length of a race: he claimed the 10,000 meter title in only his second race over the distance
More example sentences
  • Kiplagat spotted Kiptoo's potential a year and a half before her camp was officially opened and persuaded her to race longer distances.
  • It will be an Olympic distance triathlon with a 1.5km swim, a 40 km cycle ride and a 10 km run.
  • In one-loft racing all birds race the same distance and there is a single finishing point.
2.1North American Horse Racing The distance from the winning post that a horse must have reached when the winner finishes in order to qualify for a subsequent heat.
Example sentences
  • Most of the "Kentucky horses" made the distance and were able to continue on.
2.2 (the distance) Boxing The scheduled length of a fight: he has won his first five fights inside the distance
More example sentences
  • Hersisia, 29, has won all of his 21 bouts so far with 16 stoppages inside the distance.
  • So they continued until Nijinsky had gone two lengths clear inside the distance.
  • In the same year, Larry had 12 fights, winning all bouts some inside the distance.
3The avoidance of familiarity; aloofness or reserve: a mix of warmth and distance makes a good neighbor
More example sentences
  • Dimbleby will be advantaged by the fact that he has never been in BBC programming management and that he has a blend of familiarity yet distance.
  • I wanted her to either slap me or show me some warmth, the emotional distance was too much to bear.
aloofness, remoteness, detachment, unfriendliness;
reserve, reticence, restraint, formality
informal standoffishness


[with object]
1Make (someone or something) far off or remote in position or nature: her mother wished to distance her from the rough village children
More example sentences
  • The very nature of genre fiction distances the reader from these issues.
  • Mahathir has attempted to shore up his position by trying to distance the government from corruption allegations.
  • The strangely melancholy beauty of these places can't be traversed - we're hopelessly distanced from nature.
withdraw, detach, separate, dissociate, disassociate, isolate, put at a distance
1.1 (distance oneself from) Declare that one is not connected with or a supporter of (someone or something): he sought to distance himself from the proposals
More example sentences
  • But distancing ourselves seems to be the only way to lessen the struggle.
  • With The Invisible Man, he was intent on distancing himself as much as possible from the darkness of his past.
  • He turned his back towards me as if distancing himself emotionally from me.
1.2North American Horse Racing Beat (a horse) by a distance.
Example sentences
  • He gave way after the first half-mile and was distanced.
  • Sir Archy was distanced in the first two heats, but salvaged the final heat.



go the distance

Boxing Complete a fight without being knocked out: he went the distance after being floored in the first round
More example sentences
  • The former WBC champion last year went the distance with Germany's Sven Ottke in an IBF title fight.
  • Who knows what they would have scored had the fight gone the distance?
  • I'm guessing that Ellis would have won a decision if the fight had gone the distance.
1.1(Of a boxing match) last the scheduled length: six of his fights went the distance
More example sentences
  • In other words, if a bowler didn't put his opponent away early, he was in trouble - especially if the match went the distance.
  • This time he makes no mistake and the match will go the distance.
  • Hunter drew level after the restart but the match looked destined to go the distance as neither man could take control.
Baseball 1.2 Pitch for the entire length of a game.
Example sentences
  • But it had been a little alarming that Maddux, who three times has led the N.L. in complete games, hadn't gone the distance.
  • Wells allowed one run on eight hits, while going the distance on just 100 pitches - with only 19 called balls.
  • Toney went the distance for his 10-inning no-hitter.
1.3Last for a long time: this amplifier system should go the distance
More example sentences
  • They are prepared to go the distance on the running machine to stay in the playground of youth.
  • The fact that the series even went the distance certainly serves as a testament to the vast improvement that UW has undergone in the past two seasons.
  • When was the last time a move to amend the Constitution went the distance and actually occurred?

keep one's distance

Stay far away: keep your distance from birds feeding their young
More example sentences
  • If equipped with long range weapons they will keep their distance and try to stay away from your reach.
  • So I decided to keep my distance and stay where I was by my car door.
  • Both had done all the right things, the family said - they stayed together, avoided heavy drinking sessions, and kept their distance from local youths.
2.1Maintain one’s reserve: you had to say nothing and keep your distance
More example sentences
  • Moses said he saw that the police kept their distance from reserve communities because of a lack of understanding of the people and their culture.
  • Should I keep my distance to maintain my authority or spend time with everyone to make sure things get done?
  • This is a break with the tradition of analysts keeping their distance from the players in the field so as to maintain their objectivity.

within —— distance

Near enough to reach by the means specified: the parking lot is within easy walking distance he wanted to be within driving distance of his grandparents
More example sentences
  • Don't compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your children with other members of the team, at least within their hearing distance.
  • As I live within a short walking distance of a river, I was happy to discover that the chance of my home flooding each year is just 1 in 1,000 or less.
  • Number 48 will appeal to those buyers who want a period property in very good condition within walking distance of their place of work.

within striking distance

Near enough to hit or achieve something: the aircraft carrier is dispatched to deep waters within striking distance of Moscow
More example sentences
  • The Dart is within striking distance and work is well underway on the M50 link near Loughlinstown.
  • This put the Kiwis within striking distance of Canada however not close enough to qualify.
  • Within the past few minutes, Dr. Jim Thompson says they're now within striking distance of living independent lives.


Middle English (in the sense 'discord, debate'): from Old French or from Latin distantia, from distant- 'standing apart', from the verb distare (see distant).

  • The distant origin of distance lies in Latin distare ‘to stand apart’. The apartness may be physical, as in the distance between two places, or intellectual. The earliest senses of distance in English are ‘discord, debate’, and ‘a disagreement, a quarrel’. The expression to go the distance, ‘to last for a long time’, has its roots in the world of boxing, although it is also used in other sports. A boxer who ‘goes the distance’ manages to complete a fight without being knocked out. In baseball, the phrase is used to mean ‘to pitch for the entire length of an inning’, and in horse racing a horse that can ‘go the distance’ can run the full length of a race without tiring.

Words that rhyme with distance

assistance, coexistence, consistence, existence, insistence, outdistance, persistence, resistance, subsistence

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dis·tance

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.