[ ki-lom-i-ter, kil-uh-mee‐ ]
/ kɪˈlɒm ɪ tər, ˈkɪl əˌmi‐ /
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a unit of length, the common measure of distances equal to 1,000 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

First recorded in 1800–10; from French kilomètre; see origin at kilo-, meter1

how to pronounce kilometer

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.


kil·o·met·ric [kil-uh-me-trik], /ˌkɪl əˈmɛ trɪk/, kil·o·met·ri·cal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use kilometer in a sentence

Scientific definitions for kilometer

[ kĭ-lŏmĭ-tər, kĭlə-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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.