Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

kilometer

[ki-lom-i-ter, kil-uh-mee‐]
See more synonyms for kilometer on Thesaurus.com
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
Show More
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 kilometer

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples


Word Origin and History for kilometer

n.

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

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

kilometer 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.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

kilometer 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.

Show More
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.