Depth vs. Height — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on October 29, 2023
Depth measures how deep something goes below a surface; height measures how tall something is from the base to the top.

Key Differences

Depth is a measurement that indicates how far an object or point goes below a specific reference level, often the surface. Height, on the other hand, indicates how tall something is, typically from its base to its topmost point.
Both depth and height are ways to gauge the dimension of objects but in different directions. Depth typically goes downward, like the depth of a pool, while height moves upward, such as the height of a building.
Depth can also metaphorically suggest intensity or complexity, as in "depth of knowledge" or "depth of feeling." Height can allude to the culmination or peak of something, as in "height of fame" or "height of power."
In essence, while both depth and height are spatial measurements, they have different orientations and contexts. Depth often relates to things beneath a surface, while height pertains to things standing tall above a base.

Comparison Chart

Direction

Downward from a surface.
Upward from a base.

Common Usage

Water depth, depth of knowledge.
Building height, height of a person.

Metaphorical Use

Intensity or complexity.
Culmination or peak.

Spatial Orientation

Vertical measure below a reference point.
Vertical measure above a base or ground.

Examples

Depth of a well, depth of a wound.
Height of a mountain, height of success.

Compare with Definitions

Depth

Refers to the distance below a surface.
The depth of the cut surprised him.

Height

Height is measure of vertical distance, either vertical extent (how "tall" something or someone is) or vertical position (how "high" a point is). For example, "The height of that building is 50 m" or "The height of an airplane in-flight is about 10,000 m".

Depth

Describes the degree to which something is profound.
The depth of her emotions was palpable.

Height

Abbr. h The distance from the base of something to the top.

Depth

Often denotes something submerged or underground.
The depth of the tunnel was over a mile.

Height

Elevation above a given level, as of the sun or a star above the horizon; altitude.

Depth

The condition or quality of being deep.

Height

The condition or attribute of being relatively or sufficiently high or tall

Depth

The extent, measurement, or dimension downward, backward, or inward
Dove to a depth of 30 feet.
Shelves with enough depth to store the large boxes.

Height

Stature, especially of the human body.

Depth

The measurement or sense of distance from an observation point, such as linear perspective in painting.

Height

A hill, mountain, or other piece of ground that stands out from the surrounding land.

Depth

Often depths A deep part or place
The ocean depths.
In the depths of the forest.

Height

A high point or position
Prices rose to stunning heights.

Depth

The most profound or intense part or stage
The depth of despair.
An experience that touched the depths of tragedy.

Height

The highest or uppermost point; the summit or apex
Finally reached the height of the mountain.

Depth

Intensity; force
Had not realized the depth of their feelings for one another.

Height

The highest or most advanced degree; the zenith
At the height of her career.

Depth

The severest or worst part
In the depth of an economic depression.

Height

The point of highest intensity; the climax
The height of a storm.

Depth

A low point, level, or degree
Production has fallen to new depths.

Height

(Obsolete) High rank, estate, or degree.

Depth

Intellectual complexity or penetration; profundity
A novel of great depth.

Height

(Archaic) Loftiness of mind.

Depth

The range of one's understanding or competence
I am out of my depth when it comes to cooking.

Height

(Obsolete) Arrogance; hauteur
"He returned me a very resolute answer, and full of height" (Oliver Cromwell).

Depth

Strength held in reserve, especially a supply of skilled or capable replacements
A team with depth at every position.

Height

The distance from the base of something to the top.

Depth

The degree of richness or intensity
Depth of color.

Height

The distance of something above the ground or some other chosen level.
We flew at a height of 15 000 meters.

Depth

Lowness in pitch.

Height

(phonetics) A quality of vowels, indicating the vertical position of the tongue relative to the roof of the mouth; in practice, the first formant, associated with the height of the tongue.

Depth

Complete detail; thoroughness
The depth of her research.
An interview conducted in great depth.

Height

The vertical distance from the ground to the highest part of a standing person or animal (withers in the case of a horse).

Depth

The vertical distance below a surface; the degree to which something is deep
Measure the depth of the water in this part of the bay.

Height

The highest point or maximum degree.
She's at the height of her career.

Depth

The distance between the front and the back, as the depth of a drawer or closet

A high point.

Depth

(figuratively) the intensity, complexity, strength, seriousness or importance of an emotion, situation, etc.
The depth of her misery was apparent to everyone.
The depth of the crisis had been exaggerated.
We were impressed by the depth of her knowledge.

Height

A mountain, especially a very high one.

Depth

Lowness
The depth of a sound

Height

(Sussex) An area of land at the top of a cliff.

Depth

The total palette of available colors

Height

(maths) The amplitude of a sine function

Depth

The property of appearing three-dimensional
The depth of field in this picture is amazing.

Height

The condition of being high; elevated position.
Behold the height of the stars, how high they are!

Depth

The deepest part usually of a body of water
The burning ship finally sunk into the depths.

Height

The distance to which anything rises above its foot, above that on which in stands, above the earth, or above the level of the sea; altitude; the measure upward from a surface, as the floor or the ground, of an animal, especially of a man; stature.
[Goliath's] height was six cubits and a span.

Depth

A very remote part.
Into the depths of the jungle...
In the depths of the night,

Height

Degree of latitude either north or south.
Guinea lieth to the north sea, in the same height as Peru to the south.

Depth

The most severe part
In the depth of the crisis
In the depths of winter

Height

That which is elevated; an eminence; a hill or mountain; as, Alpine heights.

Depth

(logic) the number of simple elements which an abstract conception or notion includes; the comprehension or content

Height

Elevation in excellence of any kind, as in power, learning, arts; also, an advanced degree of social rank; preëminence or distinction in society; prominence.
All would in his power hold, all make his subjects.

Depth

(horology) a pair of toothed wheels which work together

Height

Social duties are carried to greater heights, and enforced with stronger motives by the principles of our religion.

Depth

(aeronautics) the perpendicular distance from the chord to the farthest point of an arched surface

Height

Utmost degree in extent; extreme limit of energy or condition; as, the height of a fever, of passion, of madness, of folly; the height of a tempest.
My grief was at the height before thou camest.
[He] spake these same words, all on hight.

Depth

(statistics) the lower of the two ranks of a value in an ordered set of values

Height

The vertical dimension of extension; distance from the base of something to the top

Depth

The quality of being deep; deepness; perpendicular measurement downward from the surface, or horizontal measurement backward from the front; as, the depth of a river; the depth of a body of troops.

Height

The highest level or degree attainable;
His landscapes were deemed the acme of beauty
The artist's gifts are at their acme
At the height of her career
The peak of perfection
Summer was at its peak
...catapulted Einstein to the pinnacle of fame
The summit of his ambition
So many highest superlatives achieved by man
At the top of his profession

Depth

Profoundness; extent or degree of intensity; abundance; completeness; as, depth of knowledge, or color.
Mindful of that heavenly loveWhich knows no end in depth or height.

Height

Natural height of a person or animal in an upright position

Depth

Lowness; as, depth of sound.

Height

Elevation especially above sea level or above the earth's surface;
The altitude gave her a headache

Depth

That which is deep; a deep, or the deepest, part or place; the deep; the middle part; as, the depth of night, or of winter.
From you unclouded depth above.
The depth closed me round about.

Height

Height determines how tall something is.
The height of the tree was astounding.

Depth

The number of simple elements which an abstract conception or notion includes; the comprehension or content.

Height

Refers to the distance from the base to the top.
The height of the mountain was challenging to climb.

Depth

A pair of toothed wheels which work together.

Height

Can indicate a peak or zenith.
She reached the height of her career.

Depth

The perpendicular distance from the chord to the farthest point of an arched surface.

Height

Describes stature or elevation.
His height made him easy to spot in a crowd.

Depth

The maximum number of times a type of procedure is reiteratively called before the last call is exited; - of subroutines or procedures which are reentrant; - used of call stacks.

Height

Often used for things standing erect.
The height of the building blocked the sun.

Depth

Extent downward or backward or inward;
The depth of the water
Depth of a shelf
Depth of a closet

Depth

Degree of psychological or intellectual depth

Depth

(usually plural) the deepest and most remote part;
From the depths of darkest Africa
Signals received from the depths of space

Depth

(usually plural) a low moral state;

Depth

The intellectual ability to penetrate deeply into ideas

Depth

Depth indicates how deep something is.
The depth of the lake was 100 feet.

Depth

Can measure intensity or complexity.
She was impressed by the depth of his understanding.

Common Curiosities

Can depth refer to something abstract?

Yes, depth can metaphorically suggest intensity or complexity, like "depth of knowledge."

What might "depth of feeling" mean?

It implies a profound or intense emotion or sentiment.

Can height be used to refer to someone's stature?

Yes, height often refers to the stature of a person, like "his height is 6 feet."

How is "height of power" typically used?

It indicates the peak or zenith of one's influence or control.

Which direction does depth typically measure?

Depth typically measures downward, like the depth of water in a pool.

Do depth and height measure the same thing?

No, depth measures downward from a surface while height measures upward from a base.

Can height refer to the peak of an abstract concept?

Yes, terms like "height of success" or "height of fame" refer to the peak of those abstract ideas.

Can depth be used in emotional contexts?

Yes, phrases like "depth of emotion" convey profound feelings.

Is height a horizontal measurement?

No, height is a vertical measurement from base to top.

What tools can measure depth?

Tools like depth gauges, sonar, and rulers can measure depth.

How can height be determined?

Height can be determined using measuring tapes, altimeters, or laser distance meters.

Does depth always measure something submerged?

Typically, but it can also refer to the complexity or profundity of a topic.

What's the opposite of depth in terms of direction?

The opposite would be height or elevation, as it measures upward.

Can both depth and height refer to abstract concepts?

Yes, both can be used metaphorically, like "depth of knowledge" or "height of success."

Is height always a physical measurement?

Often it is, but it can also refer to an abstract peak, like "height of achievement."

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