[ dis-tuhns ]
See synonyms for: distancedistanceddistancing on Thesaurus.com

  1. the extent or amount of space between two things, points, lines, etc.

  2. the state or fact of being apart in space, as of one thing from another; remoteness.

  1. a linear extent of space: Seven miles is a distance too great to walk in an hour.

  2. an expanse; area: A vast distance of water surrounded the ship.

  3. the interval between two points of time; an extent of time: His vacation period was a good distance away.

  4. remoteness or difference in any respect: Our philosophies are a long distance apart.

  5. an amount of progress: We've come a long distance on the project.

  6. a distant point, place, or region.

  7. the distant part of a field of view: a tree in the distance.

  8. absence of warmth; reserve: Their first meeting in several years was hampered by a certain distance between them.

  9. Horse Racing. (in a heat race) the space measured back from the winning post that a horse must reach by the time the winner passes the winning post or be eliminated from subsequent heats.

  10. Mathematics. the greatest lower bound of differences between points, one from each of two given sets.

  11. Obsolete. disagreement or dissension; a quarrel.

verb (used with object),dis·tanced, dis·tanc·ing.
  1. to leave behind at a distance, as at a race; surpass.

  2. to place at a distance.

  1. to cause to appear distant.

Idioms about distance

  1. go the distance,

    • (in horse racing) to be able to run well in a long race.

    • Informal. to finish or complete something, especially something difficult, challenging, or requiring sustained effort.

  2. keep at a distance, to treat coldly or in an unfriendly manner.

  1. keep one's distance, to avoid becoming familiar or involved; remain cool or aloof.

Origin of distance

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English, from Latin distantia, from distant- (stem of distāns “standing apart”; see distant) + -ia -y3; replacing Middle English destaunce, from Anglo-French

Other words for distance

Other words from distance

  • dis·tance·less, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use distance in a sentence

  • Aware that the Sioux were distancing them, the Pawnee hunters were shouting encouragement to their tribesmen.

    Three Sioux Scouts | Elmer Russell Gregor
  • It sank in Rhoda like the preaching of an end that was promise of a beginning, and girdled a distancing land of trouble.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete | George Meredith
  • This very rarely happens, as he is a crack shot, easily distancing the other competitors.

    A Day with Lord Byron | May Clarissa Gillington
  • The heartless master plunged the spurs into his horse's sides, for the dogs were out-distancing him.

    The Cave by the Beech Fork | Henry S. Spalding
  • The moon has far more majesty when but distancing the tree-tops than when rolling apparently at random through an empty sky.

    The Garden, You, and I | Mabel Osgood Wright

British Dictionary definitions for distance


/ (ˈdɪstəns) /

  1. the intervening space between two points or things

  2. the length of this gap

  1. the state of being apart in space; remoteness

  2. an interval between two points in time

  3. the extent of progress; advance

  4. a distant place or time: he lives at a distance from his work

  5. a separation or remoteness in relationship; disparity

  6. geometry

    • the length of the shortest line segment joining two points

    • the length along a straight line or curve

  7. the distance the most distant or a faraway part of the visible scene or landscape

  8. horse racing

    • British a point on a racecourse 240 yards from the winning post

    • British any interval of more than 20 lengths between any two finishers in a race

    • US the part of a racecourse that a horse must reach in any heat before the winner passes the finishing line in order to qualify for later heats

  9. go the distance

    • boxing to complete a bout without being knocked out

    • to be able to complete an assigned task or responsibility

  10. keep one's distance to maintain a proper or discreet reserve in respect of another person

  11. the distant parts of a picture, such as a landscape

  12. middle distance

    • (in a picture) halfway between the foreground and the horizon

    • (in a natural situation) halfway between the observer and the horizon

  13. (modifier) athletics relating to or denoting the longer races, usually those longer than a mile: a distance runner

  1. to hold or place at a distance

  2. to separate (oneself) mentally or emotionally from something

  1. to outdo; outstrip

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with distance


see go the distance; keep one's distance; spitting distance.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.