• synonyms


  1. 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.
  2. apart or far off in time: distant centuries past.
  3. remote or far apart in any respect: a distant relative.
  4. reserved or aloof; not familiar or cordial: a distant greeting.
  5. arriving from or going to a distance, as a communication, journey, etc.: I have here a distant letter from Japan.
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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 formsdis·tant·ly, adverbdis·tant·ness, nouno·ver·dis·tant, adjectiveo·ver·dis·tant·ly, adverbqua·si-dis·tant, adjectivequa·si-dis·tant·ly, adverbul·tra·dis·tant, adjectiveun·dis·tant, adjectiveun·dis·tant·ly, adverb


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

British Dictionary definitions for distantly


  1. far away or apart in space or time
  2. (postpositive) separated in space or time by a specified distance
  3. apart in relevance, association, or relationshipa distant cousin
  4. coming from or going to a faraway placea distant journey
  5. remote in manner; aloof
  6. abstracted; absenta distant look
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Derived Formsdistantly, adverbdistantness, 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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper