Definition of length in English:


Pronunciation: /lɛŋ(k)θ//lɛn(t)θ/


  • 1[mass noun] The measurement or extent of something from end to end; the greater of two or the greatest of three dimensions of an object.

    ‘the delta is twenty kilometres in length’
    [count noun] ‘the fish reaches a length of 10 inches’
    • ‘The squid weighs 20 kilograms and measures 1.5 metres in length.’
    • ‘Adult sperm whales average 15m in length, but can reach a maximum of 20m and a weight of 70 tonnes.’
    • ‘Although seldom more than three inches in length, the hair may be cut to a quarter of an inch at the nape of the neck.’
    • ‘It was barely two inches in length and quite thin.’
    • ‘The enormous fish, which measured nearly 2m in length, strangely offered little resistance and was hauled up to the boat.’
    • ‘In small streams, brown trout may grow to no more than twelve inches in length and weigh less than a pound.’
    • ‘Women make bark cloth that can reach fifty feet in length and fifteen feet in width.’
    • ‘And today it has grown so large that it measures 10.5 feet in length.’
    • ‘Roots range from eight inches up to 24 inches in length.’
    • ‘The fish measured two metres in length and the fins would have been between 700 and 800 millimetres long.’
    • ‘One of the bone instruments was a needle about four inches in length, beautifully tapered, and still in a prefect state of preservation.’
    • ‘The very biggest may have reached 40 metres in length and weighed close to 100 metric tons.’
    • ‘The lake measures 35 miles in length, up to 15 miles in width and has about 115 miles of shoreline.’
    • ‘It measures 8.3 inches in length, 5.5 inches in height and weighs in at 2 pounds.’
    • ‘Being around three to four inches in length they are also just the right size for tench fishing.’
    • ‘One of the windows measured about ten feet in length while the other four were of a smaller size and located in the porch area.’
    • ‘Typical blocks were fabricated to measurements of three feet in length and 1.5 feet in width and height.’
    • ‘Basking sharks can reach 10m in length and weigh in at anything from 2 to 7 tonnes.’
    • ‘The newborn measure eight inches in length and they are known to grow up to 20 feet in the wild, say the Croc Bank authorities.’
    • ‘Liam rolled up his denim jacket sleeve and revealed a scar about eight inches in length, crooked and jagged and raised and a deep mauve color.’
    extent, extent lengthwise, distance, distance lengthwise, linear measure, span, reach
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    1. 1.1The quality of being long.
      ‘the length of the waiting list’
      period, duration, stretch, term, span
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    2. 1.2[count noun]The length of a swimming pool as a measure of the distance swum.
      ‘fifty lengths of the pool’
      • ‘After a tough few lengths in the swimming pool, it's always refreshing to know you can head for a sauna so hot it leaves you gasping.’
      • ‘Rather unusually for me I fancied a swim instead of the gym this morning so did some leisurely lengths before eight then sat in the bubbly spa feeling springy.’
      • ‘Jemma, ten, and her cousin Danielle, 11, swam 50 lengths of the pool at Devizes Leisure Centre on Sunday.’
      • ‘She swam an impressive 20 lengths of the pool in 19 minutes and five seconds and presented Lydia with the money and a cute teddy bear, which Lydia christened Benjamin.’
      • ‘Two years ago, Kevin O'Donnell could barely swim 12 lengths of his local swimming pool and would drag himself totally exhausted from the water.’
      • ‘She also used to swim 30 lengths a day, competing with everyone who came in the pool.’
      • ‘Keith Green, of Robin Close, Warminster is to swim 65 lengths of the Kingdown swimming pool in Warminster for MacMillan Cancer Relief.’
      • ‘Applicants should have completed the equivalent of advanced lessons and be able to tread water and swim two lengths of the pool.’
      • ‘Only last week a 76-year-old woman raised £280 for the pool fund by swimming 100 lengths.’
      • ‘In preparation for the challenge, she has been swimming 500 lengths a day at her local gym.’
      • ‘To finish off I went down to pool to swim my usual 30 lengths.’
      • ‘He continued to swim 40 lengths to the day he died.’
      • ‘Splitting her time between homes in Knightsbridge and Gloucestershire, she swims her daily 30 lengths in a swimming pool fitted with underwater speakers.’
      • ‘He is capable of swimming a length and surface diving, and loves the water.’
      • ‘I decided to attempt to swim two lengths of the pool underwater on a single breath, a feat that I have accomplished a couple of times before.’
      • ‘The team, all from Bradon Forest School, completed the 5,000-metre challenge in two hours 31 minutes, swimming 40 lengths each.’
      • ‘He still was not good but certainly competent enough to swim two lengths of this oversized pool without stopping.’
      • ‘Swimming several lengths gives you a good, safe workout.’
      • ‘She is swimming lengths in the club pool and walking as much as she can rather than grabbing lifts.’
      • ‘Michelle Atherton raised more than £500 for an epilepsy charity by swimming 150 lengths of a Bolton health club pool.’
    3. 1.3[count noun]The length of a horse, boat, etc., as a measure of the lead in a race.
      ‘the mare won the race by seven lengths’
      • ‘He rebounded to win a Belmont Park allowance race by eight lengths on July 7.’
      • ‘Making most of the running, Simmies Charm finished with three lengths to spare over Tinas Dilemma in 30.78.’
      • ‘Innox was seventh last year, almost 39 lengths behind the winner.’
      • ‘The bay colt won a maiden race by seven lengths at Del Mar on August 17 in his second career start.’
      • ‘In his second career start and first try on the turf, Cartoonist rallied from last place to win the one-mile maiden special weight race by two lengths.’
      • ‘Kris Kin won the Epsom Derby by one length for trainer Sir Michael Stoute and owner Saeed Suhail.’
      • ‘Asi Siempre raced less than two lengths behind leader Elle Runaway entering the stretch.’
      • ‘Magna Graduate kept close to the leaders on the inside and moved to within one length of pacesetter Tani Maru through six furlongs.’
      • ‘As they moved through the middle of the race the Evers-Swindells had extended their lead to a boat length over Germany.’
      • ‘Briolette hung on for second, one length in front of stakes winner Asawer.’
      • ‘Stakes winner Questionable Past finished one length ahead of Turn to Lass, who finished third.’
      • ‘The Go for Gin colt won an allowance race by eight lengths at Belmont Park on June 7 in his last start.’
      • ‘He won his maiden at the Curragh last season by 15 lengths and was almost as impressive on his reappearance at Tipperary in July.’
      • ‘Guided Tour was the runner-up, one length behind the winner and a neck ahead of Golden Missile.’
      • ‘She took the lead inside the final furlong and finished two lengths clear of Godolphin Racing's Quecha.’
      • ‘At the final turn he led by eight lengths and held on comfortably for a very popular win.’
      • ‘They led the whole race finishing a boat length ahead of the Irish.’
      • ‘His latest success was achieved by 11 lengths at Doncaster last month when he justified favouritism in impressive style.’
      • ‘He has not raced since finishing six lengths behind winner Clodovil in the French Two Thousand Guineas on May 11.’
      • ‘Bachelor Duke scored by one length over Azamour in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas on May 22 at the Curragh.’
    4. 1.4The extent of a garment in a vertical direction when worn.
      ‘the length of her skirt’
      • ‘It hovered just above the knee, the perfect length for the customers he's looking to serve.’
      • ‘If it's just a normal cuff, decide what length you want the pants, then add about 1.5 inches.’
      • ‘Finally, remember that trouser length can vary from one style of pants to another.’
      • ‘It's really a matter of choosing the skirt shape and length which best suits your figure and shows off your assets.’
      • ‘The school uniform is not acceptable because the white shirt reveals too much of the arms and the skirt length is not long enough; it should be down to the ankles.’
      • ‘Her outfit consisted of a simple skirt of average length, a long-sleeved shirt, and casual makeup.’
      • ‘On the first day she had had her skirt to the regulation length.’
      • ‘Follow the directions, especially length and frequency of use.’
      • ‘Lines, whether they are stripes in the print, seams or zippers, can add width or length to the garment.’
      • ‘The length and the more structured cut makes it easy to pair with the rest of your wardrobe.’
      • ‘During seasons where miniskirts was all the rage, she countered by showing designs with hems at a more wearable length.’
    5. 1.5The full distance that a thing extends for.
      ‘the muscles running the length of my spine’
      • ‘She was dressed in a long peachy pink dress that hugged her bust tightly, and was long and loose for the rest of the garment's length.’
      • ‘Walking down to the legal precinct this morning the full two-block length of Hyde Park was beautiful.’
    6. 1.6The full extent of one's body.
      ‘he awkwardly lowered his length into the small car’
    7. 1.7Phonetics Prosody The metrical quantity or duration of a vowel or syllable.
      ‘the length of the syllable is isomorphic with the length of the syllabic vowel’
      • ‘As Navajo is a tone language, an error in tone or vowel length can be embarrassing to the listener.’
      • ‘In our research, stress is treated as a function of syllable length.’
  • 2The amount of time occupied by something.

    ‘delivery must be within a reasonable length of time’
    • ‘Day length is a stable seasonal cue and controls biological changes in a host of species.’
    • ‘The main cause is the tidal pull of the Moon, which has slowed the day length by about two hours over the past 400 million years.’
    • ‘Is the store's clientele extensive enough that a sale will happen within a reasonable length of time?’
    • ‘The plans are aimed at evening out term lengths.’
    • ‘I agree with the member that the answer was too long, as several answers have been today, and I have asked members to please keep both questions and answers to reasonable lengths.’
    • ‘Much of Inuit life was adapted to the extremes of summer and winter night lengths.’
    • ‘Alternatively, one can investigate how the day length has changed not just over the past decade, but also over 200 or 300 decades.’
    • ‘Under this method different amounts of interest are charged for months of different lengths.’
    • ‘The long-term goal is to have a body of approximately 70 researchers with various degrees of affiliation to Perimeter working for terms of varying lengths.’
    • ‘Interesting, though, is the fact that I find it harder and harder these days to spend long lengths of time in smoky clubs.’
    • ‘The tilt of the earth not only gives us the changing day lengths, but the seasons as well.’
    • ‘The answers range in length from about 2 to 4 minutes.’
    • ‘Child benefits will be tied to the length of service and amount of contributions paid until the baby is born.’
    • ‘The feeling of discouragement usually goes away within a reasonable length of time.’
    • ‘Season start times and lengths have also changed in certain regions and Sunday hunting is being offered in several new areas.’
    • ‘More patients will be treated as day cases and the lengths of time other patients stay in hospital will be reduced under the programme launched on Monday.’
    • ‘The videos range in length from two to 31 minutes and will be projected directly onto the building's glass façade.’
    • ‘The amount depends on length of service and other variables.’
    • ‘But figuring out the lengths of days of yore isn't as easy as subtracting two milliseconds for every century.’
    • ‘This would determine the number of insects, the lengths of winters, the directions of the winds and how long they blew.’
    period, duration, stretch, term, span
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  • 3A piece or stretch of something.

    ‘a length of brown satin’
    ‘the surviving length of track’
    • ‘Marcus bundled the man inside and secured the lid with a length of washing line taken from the outside balcony.’
    • ‘‘You can still see pebbles in the stone,’ says Gerry, caressing the surface of a length of wall down by Kaleyard's Gate.’
    • ‘Maria carefully rolled the piece, winding a length of sticky tape around the tube, stowing it in her bag.’
    • ‘We then wrapped her in a length of white muslin (white is the colour of initiation) and lifted her above our heads and rocked her.’
    • ‘It was replaced at half time by a length of plastic piping that is normally used as a goal post during Little League games.’
    • ‘It was tethered to a slightly larger box in his front pocket by a length of coiled wire, like between a telephone and it's handset.’
    • ‘The ferrets, as many as six at a time, are run along a length of pipe.’
    • ‘A length of outside stone wall has been dated back to pre-1066.’
    • ‘He is holding a length of curtain material in front of him while a young woman attempts to crawl between his legs.’
    • ‘So, armed with a length of twine, I set off to capture the dog.’
    • ‘This line was not bordered by any physical crash barrier, but by what looked like a length of cable stuck to the pavement in front of them.’
    • ‘Attacking them with a blunt object, such as a length of wood, could be also considered cruel, at least for the Rottweiler.’
    • ‘Instead he's trying to tie a length of rope onto his daughter Hillary's climbing harness.’
    • ‘A physical barrier can be as elaborate as a wood-framed cage of window screen, or as simple as a length of row cover.’
    • ‘You can construct a model of this surface from a length of foam rubber with a square cross section.’
    • ‘The manager went off, and returned with a length of adhesive plastic, holding it out like a holy cloth to be draped over a bishop's neck.’
    • ‘Suddenly he was behind me, a length of white cord stretched tightly between his two hands.’
    • ‘The group has been fundraising the estimated $8 million needed to run a length of track from London Farm to Garry Point Park.’
    • ‘They weave cotton into strips of cloth, which are then sewn together, forming a length of fabric.’
    • ‘From her right hand dangled a length of line, weighted by a piece of lead in the size and shape of a split pea.’
    piece, swatch, portion, section, measure, segment, roll
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  • 4An extreme to which a course of action is taken.

    ‘they go to great lengths to avoid the press’
    • ‘‘There must be a better way to provide services to the community without going to such lengths every three years,’ she said.’
    • ‘The filmmakers also go to great lengths to tell the kids not to be fashion slaves.’
    • ‘When research doesn't go their way, or simply confirms what mothers intuitively know, feminist social affairs writers will go to great lengths to cover it up.’
    • ‘Milgram's shocking experiment years ago demonstrated the lengths people go to to satisfy authority.’
    • ‘Adults with literacy difficulties are very vulnerable and go to great lengths to keep their circumstances secret, often from their partners and children.’
    • ‘I told Sean I go to great lengths to look like his mom.’
    • ‘Let's face it, women have gone to great lengths over the centuries, to keep their beauty techniques under wraps.’
    • ‘But the episode starkly illustrated the lengths to which many universities were prepared to go to maintain student numbers and thereby their funding.’
    • ‘Hospital staff are sometimes advised to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid taking responsibility for deaths or accidents.’
    • ‘We have gone to extraordinary lengths to screen every single athlete on this team to make sure they're not in danger of inadvertent doping.’
    • ‘We go to great lengths to make seemingly easy connections with an audience.’
    • ‘But why do you go to such lengths to criticize them across the board?’
    • ‘Infertility was a deeply distressing problem and childless couples would go to great lengths to raise money to fund treatment, he said.’
    • ‘At a tax rate of $20 per carton, smokers will go to great lengths to find alternative, cheaper ways to get their cigarettes.’
    • ‘Even f they've been successful in the past, there's a constant fear of failure, and they go to great lengths to perfect everything they do.’
    • ‘Some of them deliberately cultivate an extremely casual look, and go to great lengths to sport outlandish hairstyles.’
    • ‘And while we all enjoy having a good time at Christmas, environmentalists say we're going to excessive lengths these days - and we're all in danger of paying the price.’
    • ‘People forget the legacy of public service and the lengths that people will go to in living up to their responsibilities.’
    • ‘Since I decided to argue against this form of feminism in my first essay for the course, I had to go to great lengths to hide this book from my younger siblings throughout reading week.’
    • ‘Modern psychoanalytic practice goes to great lengths to quarantine the psychoanalytic conversation from the real world.’
    do absolutely anything, go to any extreme, go to any limits, observe no limits
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  • 5Cricket
    The distance from the batsman at which a well-bowled ball pitches.

    ‘Lewis tended to bowl short of a length’
    • ‘For reasons of balance alone, the sight of Lee making the ball rear from a length was a refreshing sight.’
    • ‘The cleverly disguised ball, pitched short of a length, would skid off the surface and crash into the batsman's pads or stumps.’
    • ‘The score had moved on to 168 for 1 in the 36th over when Sachin Tendulkar bowled a ball just short of a length outside off-stump.’
    • ‘Minutes later, he pitched one slightly short of a length on off stump.’
    • ‘He learnt quickly, and kept it on a good length or just short - on a pitch of varying bounce, that was the perfect way to bowl.’
  • 6(in bridge or whist) the number of cards of a suit held in one's hand, especially when five or more.

    ‘to open one heart with equal length in hearts and spades is in the modern Acol style’
    • ‘Ones of longer lengths win, with high cards breaking ties and loose high cards breaking further ties.’
    • ‘A sequence can be beaten either by a higher sequence of the same length in the same suit or by any sequence of the same length in a higher suit.’
    • ‘For this purpose, a longer trump suit is better than a shorter, and a trump holding in clubs is better than one of the same length in an unstated suit, even if the first player had in fact a club holding.’
    • ‘In choosing between suits of the same length, do not choose a suit with very high cards in it, as these may well win tricks even if they are not trumps.’


Old English lengthu, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lengte, also to long.