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kilometer

[ki-lom-i-ter, kil-uh-mee‐]
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noun
  1. a unit of length, the common measure of distances equal to 1000 meters, and equivalent to 3280.8 feet or 0.621 mile. Abbreviation: km
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Also especially British, kil·o·me·tre.

Origin of kilometer

From the French word kilomètre, dating back to 1800–10. See kilo-, meter1
Related formskil·o·met·ric [kil-uh-me-trik] /ˌkɪl əˈmɛ trɪk/, kil·o·met·ri·cal, adjective

Pronunciation note

The usual pronunciation for units of measurement starting with kilo-, as kilocalorie, kiloliter, and kilohertz, as well as for units of length ending in the base word meter, as centimeter, hectometer, and millimeter, gives primary stress to the first syllable and secondary to the third. It would seem logical for kilometer to follow this pattern, and in fact the pronunciation [kil-uh-mee-ter] /ˈkɪl əˌmi tər/ has been used since the early 1800's. A second pronunciation: [ki-lom-i-ter] /kɪˈlɒm ɪ tər/, with stress on the second syllable only, was first recorded in America before 1830. Although often criticized on the basis of analogy, this pronunciation has persisted in American English, increasing in frequency, and has gained popularity in British English as well. It is reinforced by words for instruments (rather than units) of measurement ending in -meter, as thermometer, barometer, and speedometer, having stress on the -om syllable. Both pronunciations are used by educated speakers, including members of the scientific community.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for kilometers

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • How much time do we need and how much energy for only four thousand kilometers?

    Operation Earthworm

    Joe Archibald

  • He had driven at least eight kilometers before he realized that the crack was narrowing.

    Wind

    Charles Louis Fontenay

  • He had seven hours to go and he was still at least 16 kilometers from Rathole.

    Wind

    Charles Louis Fontenay

  • But that star is only forty kilometers—or less than twenty-five miles in diameter!

    Islands of Space

    John W Campbell

  • These stables were about two kilometers from the battery billets.

    The Delta of the Triple Elevens

    William Elmer Bachman


Word Origin and History for kilometers

kilometer

n.

1810, from French kilomètre (1795); see kilo- + meter (n.2). Related: Kilometric.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

kilometers in Science

kilometer

[kĭ-lŏmĭ-tər, kĭlə-mē′tər]
  1. A unit of length in the metric system equal to 1,000 meters (0.62 mile). See Table at measurement.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

kilometers in Culture

kilometer

[(ki-lom-uh-tuhr, kil-uh-mee-tuhr)]

In the metric system, one thousand meters, or about five-eighths of a mile.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.