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[ki-lom-i-ter, kil-uh-mee‐] /kɪˈlɒm ɪ tər, ˈkɪl əˌmi‐/
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.
Also, especially British, kilometre.
Origin of kilometer
From the French word kilomètre, dating back to 1800-10. See kilo-, meter1
Related forms
[kil-uh-me-trik] /ˌkɪl əˈmɛ trɪk/ (Show IPA),
kilometrical, 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/ (Show IPA)
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for kilometre
Historical Examples
  • If you give these French chauffeurs an inch they'll take a kilometre.

    The Angel of Terror Edgar Wallace
  • That is one of the five kilometre posts; and you will find them all the way to the Red Sea.

    Asiatic Breezes Oliver Optic
  • Without bothering with all these decimals, a kilometre is about five-eighths of a mile.

    Asiatic Breezes Oliver Optic
  • Molne is a kilometre long and rather more than half as wide.

    Rambles in Brittany Francis Miltoun
  • He knows that there is a triple row of tents, a quarter of a kilometre apart.

    In the Foreign Legion Erwin Rosen
  • We entered the sunny woods about a quarter of a kilometre from where we left Durand.

    The Mystery of Choice Robert William Chambers
  • A kilometre is 0.621 or nearly five-eighths of a statute mile.

  • There is a hill half a kilometre from the Unstrut, but it is under the fire of the enemy.

    The Prussian Terror Alexandre Dumas
  • My guide and I trudged along in silence for almost a kilometre.

    The Doctor's Dilemma Hesba Stretton
  • The old man did not know, and so I mentioned that the fifty-five kilometre post was by the quay at Alcudia Port.

    The Recipe for Diamonds Charles John Cutcliffe Wright Hyne
British Dictionary definitions for kilometre


/kɪˈlɒmɪtə; ˈkɪləˌmiːtə/
one thousand metres, equal to 0.621371 miles km
Derived Forms
kilometric (ˌkɪləʊˈmɛtrɪk), kilometrical, adjective
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 kilometre

chiefly British English spelling of kilometer; also see -re.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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kilometre in Science
  (kĭ-lŏm'ĭ-tər, kĭl'ə-mē'tər)   
A unit of length in the metric system equal to 1,000 meters (0.62 mile). See Table at measurement.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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kilometre 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.

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