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[dis-tuh nt] /ˈdɪs tənt/
far off or apart in space; not near at hand; remote or removed (often followed by from):
a distant place; a town three miles distant from here.
apart or far off in time:
distant centuries past.
remote or far apart in any respect:
a distant relative.
reserved or aloof; not familiar or cordial:
a distant greeting.
arriving from or going to a distance, as a communication, journey, etc.:
I have here a distant letter from Japan.
Origin of distant
1350-1400; Middle English dista(u)nt (< Anglo-French) < Latin distant- (stem of distāns, present participle of distāre to stand apart), equivalent to di- di-2 + stā- stand + -nt- present participle suffix
Related forms
distantly, adverb
distantness, noun
overdistant, adjective
overdistantly, adverb
quasi-distant, adjective
quasi-distantly, adverb
ultradistant, adjective
undistant, adjective
undistantly, adverb
4. cool, withdrawn. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for distantly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The gentleman bowed, distantly enough, and said he was obliged to him.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • Miss Elvira nodded and agreed, distantly—yet not too distant.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • With his neighbors Signor Keralio was distantly polite, but never intimate.

    The Mask

    Arthur Hornblow
  • "I'd rather talk to you in my room, if you please," she said distantly.

    Marjorie Dean Pauline Lester
  • She's Gene's aunt, and my fourth cousin, and I think she's distantly related to Jeff.

    Free Air Sinclair Lewis
  • distantly I heard Macbeth and the witches and the apparitions talk.

    No Great Magic Fritz Reuter Leiber
  • I saluted him distantly, and he returned my greeting with the like pride.

    Devereux, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for distantly


far away or apart in space or time
(postpositive) separated in space or time by a specified distance
apart in relevance, association, or relationship: a distant cousin
coming from or going to a faraway place: a distant journey
remote in manner; aloof
abstracted; absent: a distant look
Derived Forms
distantly, adverb
distantness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin distāre to be distant, from dis-1 + stāre to stand
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 distantly



late 14c., from Old French distant (14c.), from Latin distantem (nominative distans), present participle of distare "to stand apart, be remote" (see distance (n.)). Related: Distantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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