from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The extent of space between two objects or places; an intervening space.
  • noun The fact or condition of being apart in space; remoteness.
  • noun Mathematics The length or numerical value of a straight line or curve.
  • noun The extent of space between points on a measured course.
  • noun The length of a race, especially of a horserace.
  • noun A point or area that is far away.
  • noun A depiction of a such a point or area.
  • noun A stretch of space without designation of limit; an expanse.
  • noun The extent of time between two events; an intervening period.
  • noun A point removed in time.
  • noun The full period or length of a contest or game.
  • noun An amount of progress.
  • noun Difference or disagreement.
  • noun Emotional separateness or reserve; aloofness.
  • transitive verb To place or keep at or as if at a distance.
  • transitive verb To cause to appear at a distance.
  • transitive verb To leave far behind; outrun.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To place at a distance; situate remotely.
  • To cause to appear at a distance; cause to appear remote.
  • In horse-racing, to beat in a race by at least the space between the distance-post and the winning-post; hence, to leave behind in a race; get far ahead of. See distance, n., 3.
  • To get in advance of; gain a superiority over; outdo; excel.
  • noun In psychology, extension in the third dimension; spatial depth.
  • noun In painting, remoteness of objects as indicated by increased delicacy and harmony of color.
  • noun The measure of the interval between two objects in space, or, by extension, between two points of time; the length of the straight line from one point to another, and hence of time intervening between one event or period and another: as, the distance between New York and San Francisco; the distance of two events from each other; a distance of five miles; events only the distance of an hour apart. In navigation distances are usually measured along rhumb-lines.
  • noun A definite or measured space to be maintained between two divisions of a body of troops, two combatants in a duel, or the like: as (in command), take your distances.
  • noun In horse-racing, the space measured back from the winning-post which a horse, in heat-races, must have reached when the winning horse has covered the whole course in order to be entitled to enter subsequent heats.
  • noun In music, the interval or difference between two tones. See interval.
  • noun Remoteness of place or time; a remote place or time: as, at a great distance; a light appeared in the distance.
  • noun Remoteness in succession or relation: as, the distance between a descendant and his ancestor; there is a much greater distance between the ranks of major and captain than between those of captain and first lieutenant.
  • noun Remoteness in intercourse; reserve of manner, induced by or manifesting reverence, respect, dignity, dislike, coldness or alienation of feeling, etc.
  • noun Dissension; strife; disturbance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To place at a distance or remotely.
  • transitive verb To cause to appear as if at a distance; to make seem remote.
  • transitive verb To outstrip by as much as a distance (see Distance, n., 3); to leave far behind; to surpass greatly.
  • noun The space between two objects; the length of a line, especially the shortest line joining two points or things that are separate; measure of separation in place.
  • noun Remoteness of place; a remote place.
  • noun (Racing) A space marked out in the last part of a race course.
  • noun (Mil.) Relative space, between troops in ranks, measured from front to rear; -- contrasted with interval, which is measured from right to left.
  • noun Space between two antagonists in fencing.
  • noun (Painting) The part of a picture which contains the representation of those objects which are the farthest away, esp. in a landscape.
  • noun Ideal disjunction; discrepancy; contrariety.
  • noun Length or interval of time; period, past or future, between two eras or events.
  • noun The remoteness or reserve which respect requires; hence, respect; ceremoniousness.
  • noun A withholding of intimacy; alienation; coldness; disagreement; variance; restraint; reserve.
  • noun Remoteness in succession or relation.
  • noun (Mus.) The interval between two notes.
  • noun the distance made at the eye by lines drawn from the eye to two objects.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old French, from Latin distantia ("distance, remoteneness, difference"), from distans, present participle of distare ("to stand apart, be separate, distant, or different"), from di-, dis- ("apart") + stare ("to stand").


  • As the distance from the horizon to the zenith is 90°, the difference, or _complement_ of the altitude, is called the _zenith distance_, or _co-altitude_.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 360, November 25, 1882

  • Thus in the case of any electrified body, acting on an unelectrified body at a distance, it has to be definitely understood that _the action at a distance_ is alone communicated and propagated by the dielectric or medium which exists between the two bodies.

    Aether and Gravitation

  • Coulomb, a Frenchman, is the author of a system of measurements of the electric current, and he it was who discovered that the action of electricity varies, not with the distance, but, like gravity, _in the inverse ratio of the square of the distance_.

    Steam, Steel and Electricity

  • He demonstrated that the invisible limbs of the psychic cannot only move objects at a distance, _but that they can feel at a distance_.

    The Shadow World

  • I guess your mother sized it up about right when I said all I asked was to worship you at a distance, and she said she guessed you would look out for the _distance.

    The Coast of Bohemia

  • [142] In a severe reprimand addressed to Captain Carkett, commanding the leading ship of the English line, by Rodney, he says: "Your leading in the manner you did, induced others to follow so bad an example; and thereby, forgetting that the signal for the line was at only two cables 'length distance from each other, the van division was led by you to _more than two leagues distance_ from the centre division, which was thereby exposed to the greatest strength of the enemy and not properly supported" (Life, vol.i. p. 351).

    The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783

  • Although, therefore, it may be contended that the swollen carcass of a drowned exotic deer might be borne along a diluvial wave to a considerable distance, and its bones ultimately deposited far from its native soil, _it is not credible that all the solid shed antlers of such species of deer could be carried by the same cause to the same distance_; or that any of them could be rolled for a short distance, with other heavy debris of a mighty torrent, without fracture and signs of friction.

    The Testimony of the Rocks or, Geology in Its Bearings on the Two Theologies, Natural and Revealed

  • Maryn Smith, the winner of the National Geographic planetary mnemonic contest, has created a handy way to remember the planets and their order in distance from the sun.

    My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants - NASA Watch

  • Maryn Smith, the winner of the National Geographic planetary mnemonic contest, has created a handy way to remember the planets and their order in distance from the sun.

    NASA Watch: February 2008 Archives

  • That earth is #3 in distance from the sun is a factoid.

    A View: The Science=Atheism Meme


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  • Is there a word for “inaccurate judgement of distances”?

    November 3, 2011

  • A chouli-bouli inspired by GNU Webster's 1913:

    Ideal disjunction, measured from front to rear; the

    Interval between a remote place;

    Space between the representation of two antagonists in alienation, esp. in

    A landscape;

    Remoteness in respect; disagreement; the

    Interval between two notes of time in succession, past or future; the

    Last part of ceremoniousness;

    Events measured left to right in

    Relative space of contrariety;

    Discrepancy of intimacy, a witholding; to surpass greatly

    Coldness of those objects which are

    Farthest away.

    May 30, 2012