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[al-ti-tood, -tyood] /ˈæl tɪˌtud, -ˌtyud/
the height of anything above a given planetary reference plane, especially above sea level on earth.
extent or distance upward; height.
Astronomy. the angular distance of a heavenly body above the horizon.
  1. the perpendicular distance from the vertex of a figure to the side opposite the vertex.
  2. the line through the vertex of a figure perpendicular to the base.
Usually, altitudes. a high place or region:
mountain altitudes.
high or important position, rank, etc.
Origin of altitude
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin altitūdō; see alti-, -tude
Related forms
[al-ti-tood-n-uh s, -tyood-] /ˌæl tɪˈtud n əs, -ˈtyud-/ (Show IPA),
Can be confused
altitude, elevation, height (see synonym study at height)
altitude, attitude.
1. elevation. 1, 2. See height.
2. depth. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for altitude
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It dropped to an altitude of only a few hundred feet and turned and went back over the ground it had just crossed.

  • After a while, the ship had reduced its speed and altitude to reasonable values.

    Pushbutton War Joseph P. Martino
  • The rocs had better range and altitude than any planes of equal hauling power.

    The Sky Is Falling Lester del Rey
  • They made their last camp at an altitude of eleven thousand feet.

    The Book of the National Parks Robert Sterling Yard
  • For every 900 feet of altitude the height of the mercury is about one inch less.

    Reading the Weather Thomas Morris Longstreth
British Dictionary definitions for altitude


the vertical height of an object above some chosen level, esp above sea level; elevation
(geometry) the perpendicular distance from the vertex to the base of a geometrical figure or solid
(astronomy, nautical) Also called elevation. the angular distance of a celestial body from the horizon measured along the vertical circle passing through the body Compare azimuth (sense 1)
(surveying) the angle of elevation of a point above the horizontal plane of the observer
(often pl) a high place or region
Derived Forms
altitudinal, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Latin altitūdō, from altus high, deep
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for altitude

late 14c., from Latin altitudinem (nominative altitudo) "height, altitude," from altus "high" (see old).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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altitude in Science
  1. The height of an object or structure above a reference level, usually above sea level or the Earth's surface.

  2. Astronomy The position of a celestial object above an observer's horizon, measured in degrees along a line between the horizon (0°) and the zenith (90°). Unlike declination and celestial latitude—the corresponding points in other celestial coordinate systems—the altitude of star or other celestial object is dependent on an observer's geographic location and changes steadily as the sky passes overhead due to the rotation of the Earth. See more at altazimuth coordinate system.

  3. Mathematics The perpendicular distance from the base of a geometric figure, such as a triangle, to the opposite vertex, side, or surface.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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