• IPA: /ˈdɪs.tɪns/
  • (weak vowel) IPA: /ˈdɪs.təns/


  1. (countable) The amount of space between two points, usually geographical points, usually (but not necessarily) measured along a straight line.
    The distance to Petersborough is thirty miles.
    From Moscow, the distance is relatively short to Saint Petersburg, relatively long to Novosibirsk, but even greater to Vladivostok.
  2. Length or interval of time.
    • ten years' distance between one and the other
    • the writings of Euclid at the distance of two thousand years
  3. (countable, informal) The difference; the subjective measure between two quantities.
    We're narrowing the distance between the two versions of the bill.  The distance between the lowest and next gear on my bicycle is annoying.
  4. Remoteness of place; a remote place.
    • easily managed from a distance
    • 'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view.
    • 1713, Joseph Addison, Cato, published 1712, [Act 5, scene 1]:
      [He] waits at distance till he hears from Cato.
  5. Remoteness in succession or relation.
    the distance between a descendant and his ancestor
  6. A space marked out in the last part of a racecourse.
    • the horse that ran the whole field out of distance
  7. (uncountable, figuratively) The entire amount of progress to an objective.
    He had promised to perform this task, but did not go the distance.
  8. (uncountable, figuratively) A withholding of intimacy; alienation; variance.
    The friendship did not survive the row: they kept each other at a distance.
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, Of Seditions and Troubles
      Setting them [factions] at distance, or at least distrust amongst themselves.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 8”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      On the part of Heaven, / Now alienated, distance and distaste.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter III, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, […], OCLC 16832619 ↗:
      In former days every tavern of repute kept such a room for its own select circle, a club, or society, of habitués, who met every evening, for a pipe and a cheerful glass. […] Strangers might enter the room, but they were made to feel that they were there on sufferance: they were received with distance and suspicion.
  9. The remoteness or reserve which respect requires; hence, respect; ceremoniousness.
    • I hope your modesty / Will know what distance to the crown is due.
    • 'Tis by respect and distance that authority is upheld.
  10. The space measured back from the winning-post which a racehorse running in a heat must reach when the winner has covered the whole course, in order to run in the final heat.
Synonyms Related terms Translations Translations Verb

distance (distances, present participle distancing; past and past participle distanced)

  1. (transitive) To move away (from) someone or something.
    He distanced himself from the comments made by some of his colleagues.
  2. (transitive) To leave at a distance; to outpace, leave behind.
    • 1891, Mary Noailles Murfree, In the "Stranger People's" Country, Nebraska 2005, p. 71:
      Then the horse, with muscles strong as steel, distanced the sound.

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