Distant vs. Distance — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on August 18, 2023
Distant is an adjective describing something far away, while distance is a noun referring to the amount of space between two points.
Difference Between Distant and Distance
Distant, as an adjective, describes a state or quality of being far away in space or time. For instance, when we refer to a star as distant, we talk about it being far from Earth. Distance, on the other hand, is a noun and indicates the measurement or extent of space between two things. It quantifies how far apart two objects or points are from each other.
Distant can also refer to a relationship or emotional state, indicating a lack of closeness or intimacy. For instance, when someone says, "He's been distant lately," it implies emotional detachment. Distance, however, in its literal sense, doesn't have emotional connotations but can metaphorically suggest emotional separation, as in "There's a distance between them after the argument."
In literature and common usage, distant might be used to describe something unreachable or abstract, like a distant memory or a distant dream. Distance, conversely, could be used to discuss the exact space one needs to travel, like the distance from New York to Los Angeles.
In essence, distant serves to characterize objects, places, or emotions in terms of their remoteness or lack of proximity. Distance is more concrete, denoting the interval or gap between two points, whether it be physical, temporal, or, metaphorically, emotional.
Part of Speech
Being far away in space, time, or relation
Measurement or extent of space between two points
Usage in a Sentence
"She felt distant from her family."
"The distance between the two cities is 100 miles."
Can indicate emotional detachment or lack of closeness
Can indicate emotional separation, but not as commonly
Can describe something abstract like a distant dream
Generally more concrete, but can be used metaphorically
Far away in space or time.
The mountain peak seemed distant and unreachable.
The extent or amount of space between two things.
The distance from Earth to the Moon is about 238,855 miles.
Remote in manner; aloof.
Her distant demeanor made it hard to connect.
Ideal disjunction; discrepancy; contrariety.
Coming from or going to a faraway place.
He received a call from a distant land.
Distance is a numerical measurement of how far apart objects or points are. In physics or everyday usage, distance may refer to a physical length or an estimation based on other criteria.
Far separated; far off; not near; remote; - in place, time, consanguinity, or connection; as, distant times; distant relatives.
The success of these distant enterprises.
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.
Every particle attracts every other with a force . . . inversely proportioned to the square of the distance.
Not closely related.
A distant cousin visited us.
Remoteness of place; a remote place.
Far away in space or time
Distant parts of the world
I remember that distant afternoon
A far-off point or space.
He could see a house in the distance.
Far apart in relationship
A distant cousin.
A space marked out in the last part of a racecourse.
Aloof or chilly
A distant smile.
To leave far behind; outrun.
Far off (physically, logically or mentally).
We heard a distant rumbling but didn't pay any more attention to it.
She was surprised to find that her fiancé was a distant relative of hers.
His distant look showed that he was not listening to me.
Length or interval of time.
Emotionally unresponsive or unwilling to express genuine feelings.
Ever since our argument, she has been totally distant toward me.
A withholding of intimacy; alienation; variance.
The friendship did not survive the row: they kept each other at a distance.
Reserved or repelling in manners; cold; not cordial; somewhat haughty; as, a distant manner.
He passed me with a distant bow.
Remoteness in succession or relation; as, the distance between a descendant and his ancestor.
Far apart in relevance or relationship;
A distant cousin
A distant likeness
Size of the gap between two places;
The distance from New York to Chicago
He determined the length of the shortest line segment joining the two points
Separate or different in nature.
Their cultures had distant origins.
(countable) The amount of space between two points, usually geographical points, usually (but not necessarily) measured along a straight line.
The distance to Petersborough is thirty miles.
From Moscow, the distance is relatively short to Saint Petersburg, relatively long to Novosibirsk, but even greater to Vladivostok.
Separate or apart in space.
Relative space, between troops in ranks, measured from front to rear; - contrasted with interval, which is measured from right to left.
Indistinct; faint; obscure, as from distance.
Some distant knowledge.
A distant glimpse.
To place at a distance or remotely.
I heard nothing thereof at Oxford, being then miles distanced thence.
(of a person) not intimate; cool or reserved
She and my father were distant with each other
His children found him strangely distant
A difference or gap in attitude, opinion, or position.
There's a great distance between their political views.
Far distant in time;
The remote past or future
A civilization ten centuries removed from modern times
(transitive) To leave at a distance; to outpace, leave behind.
A distant likeness.
A withholding of intimacy; alienation; coldness; disagreement; variance; restraint; reserve.
Setting them [factions] at distance, or at least distrust amongst themselves.
On the part of Heaven,Now alienated, distance and distaste.
Far removed mentally
The property created by the space between two objects or points
Not conformable; discrepant; repugnant; as, a practice so widely distant from Christianity.
The fact or condition of being apart in space; remoteness.
Remote in manner;
Stood apart with aloof dignity
A distant smile
He was upstage with strangers
(Mathematics) The length or numerical value of a straight line or curve.
Far distant in space;
A remote outpost of civilization
A hideaway far removed from towns and cities
The extent of space between points on a measured course.
Far removed; remote
The length of a race, especially of a horserace.
Coming from or going to a distance
A distant sound.
A distant telephone call.
A point or area that is far away
"Telephone poles stretched way into a distance I couldn't quite see" (Leigh Allison Wilson).
Far removed or apart in time
The distant past.
A depiction of a such a point or area.
Separated; having an intervening space; at a distance; away.
One board had two tenons, equally distant.
Diana's temple is not distant far.
A stretch of space without designation of limit; an expanse
A land of few hills and great distances.
Separated in space or time or coming from or going to a distance;
The distant past
The sound of distant traffic
A distant sound
A distant telephone call
Difference or disagreement
The candidates could not be at a greater distance on this issue.
Emotional separateness or reserve; aloofness.
Remoteness in succession or relation.
The distance between a descendant and his ancestor
The entire amount of progress to an objective.
He had promised to perform this task, but did not go the distance.
The space measured back from the winning-post which a racehorse running in a heat must reach when the winner has covered the whole course, in order to run in the final heat.
(transitive) To move away (from) someone or something.
He distanced himself from the comments made by some of his colleagues.
(transitive) To lose interest in a specific issue.
Remoteness of place; a remote place.
Easily managed from a distance.
'T is distance lends enchantment to the view.
[He] waits at distance till he hears from Cato.
Space between two antagonists in fencing.
The part of a picture which contains the representation of those objects which are the farthest away, esp. in a landscape.
The interval between two notes; as, the distance of a fourth or seventh.
If a man makes me keep my distance, the comfort is he keeps his at the same time.
A distant region;
I could see it in the distance
Indifference by personal withdrawal;
A remote point in time;
If that happens it will be at some distance in the future
At a distance of ten years he had forgotten many of the details
Keep at a distance;
We have to distance ourselves from these events in order to continue living
Go far ahead of;
He outdistanced the other runners
The condition of being removed or apart.
He kept his distance from the controversial topic.
The extent of progress or advancement.
We've covered a good distance in the project.
The length of the space between two points
You may have to walk long distances
I cycled the short distance home
The full length of a race
He claimed the 100 m title in only his second race over the distance
The avoidance of familiarity; reserve
A mix of warmth and distance makes a good neighbour
Make (someone or something) far off or remote in position or nature
Her mother wished to distance her from the rough village children
Beat (a horse) by a distance.
The extent of space between two objects or places; an intervening space.
The extent of time between two events; an intervening period.
A point removed in time
At a distance of 11 years, his memory of the crime was blurry.
The full period or length of a contest or game
The challenger had never attempted the distance of 12 rounds.
An amount of progress
The curriculum committee is a distance from where it was last month.
To place or keep at or as if at a distance
"monks who had distanced themselves from the official ecclesiastical hierarchy by resurrecting the ascetic traditions of the early Church Fathers" (Rosamund Bartlett).
To cause to appear at a distance.
The difference; the subjective measure between two quantities.
We're narrowing the distance between the two versions of the bill.
The distance between the lowest and next gear on my bicycle is annoying.
The remoteness or reserve which respect requires; hence, respect; ceremoniousness.
A space marked out in the last part of a race course.
The horse that ran the whole field out of distance.
Length or interval of time; period, past or future, between two eras or events.
Ten years' distance between one and the other.
The writings of Euclid at the distance of two thousand years.
The remoteness or reserve which respect requires; hence, respect; ceremoniousness.
I hope your modestyWill know what distance to the crown is due.
'T is by respect and distance that authority is upheld.
To cause to appear as if at a distance; to make seem remote.
His peculiar art of distancing an object to aggrandize his space.
The interval between two times;
The distance from birth to death
It all happened in the space of 10 minutes
How is distance different from distant in meaning?
While distant describes a state or quality of being far away, distance is the actual measure of how far apart two things are.
Can distant describe emotions?
Yes, distant can describe emotional detachment or a lack of closeness.
What part of speech is distant?
Distant is an adjective.
Can distance indicate emotional separation?
Yes, phrases like "putting distance between" can metaphorically indicate emotional separation, but it's less common than the emotional connotations of distant.
In what scenarios can distant be used?
Distant can describe physical space, time, relationships, or even emotions indicating remoteness or lack of proximity.
Is it correct to say, "The mountain looks distant"?
Yes, it means the mountain looks far away.
Is distance used only in physical contexts?
No, distance can also metaphorically suggest emotional, ideological, or temporal separation.
When should I use distant instead of distance?
Use distant when characterizing something as being far away, and use distance when referring to the actual space or gap between things.
How do I measure distance?
Distance can be measured in various units like miles, kilometers, feet, etc., depending on the context.
Can distant and distance be used interchangeably?
No, they serve different grammatical roles and have distinct meanings.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.