Definition of length in English:

length

noun

  • 1The measurement or extent of something from end to end; the greater of two or the greatest of three dimensions of a body.

    ‘it can reach over two feet in length’
    ‘the length of the airport terminal’
    • ‘The fish measured two metres in length and the fins would have been between 700 and 800 millimetres long.’
    • ‘Adult sperm whales average 15m in length, but can reach a maximum of 20m and a weight of 70 tonnes.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And today it has grown so large that it measures 10.5 feet in length.’
    • ‘Basking sharks can reach 10m in length and weigh in at anything from 2 to 7 tonnes.’
    • ‘The very biggest may have reached 40 metres in length and weighed close to 100 metric tons.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One of the bone instruments was a needle about four inches in length, beautifully tapered, and still in a prefect state of preservation.’
    • ‘In small streams, brown trout may grow to no more than twelve inches in length and weigh less than a pound.’
    • ‘The squid weighs 20 kilograms and measures 1.5 metres in length.’
    • ‘Women make bark cloth that can reach fifty feet in length and fifteen feet in width.’
    • ‘The lake measures 35 miles in length, up to 15 miles in width and has about 115 miles of shoreline.’
    • ‘It was barely two inches in length and quite thin.’
    • ‘It measures 8.3 inches in length, 5.5 inches in height and weighs in at 2 pounds.’
    • ‘The enormous fish, which measured nearly 2m in length, strangely offered little resistance and was hauled up to the boat.’
    • ‘Typical blocks were fabricated to measurements of three feet in length and 1.5 feet in width and height.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Roots range from eight inches up to 24 inches in length.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Being around three to four inches in length they are also just the right size for tench fishing.’
    extent, extent lengthwise, distance, distance lengthwise, linear measure, span, reach
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    1. 1.1 The quality of being long.
      ‘the length of the waiting list’
      period, duration, stretch, term, span
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    2. 1.2 The length of a swimming pool as a measure of the distance swum.
      ‘fifty lengths of the pool’
      • ‘The team, all from Bradon Forest School, completed the 5,000-metre challenge in two hours 31 minutes, swimming 40 lengths each.’
      • ‘Keith Green, of Robin Close, Warminster is to swim 65 lengths of the Kingdown swimming pool in Warminster for MacMillan Cancer Relief.’
      • ‘He still was not good but certainly competent enough to swim two lengths of this oversized pool without stopping.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In preparation for the challenge, she has been swimming 500 lengths a day at her local gym.’
      • ‘Swimming several lengths gives you a good, safe workout.’
      • ‘Applicants should have completed the equivalent of advanced lessons and be able to tread water and swim two lengths of the pool.’
      • ‘Splitting her time between homes in Knightsbridge and Gloucestershire, she swims her daily 30 lengths in a swimming pool fitted with underwater speakers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jemma, ten, and her cousin Danielle, 11, swam 50 lengths of the pool at Devizes Leisure Centre on Sunday.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She also used to swim 30 lengths a day, competing with everyone who came in the pool.’
      • ‘He is capable of swimming a length and surface diving, and loves the water.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Only last week a 76-year-old woman raised £280 for the pool fund by swimming 100 lengths.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He continued to swim 40 lengths to the day he died.’
      • ‘To finish off I went down to pool to swim my usual 30 lengths.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3 The length of a horse, boat, etc., as a measure of the lead in a race.
      ‘the mare won the race last year by seven lengths’
      • ‘He rebounded to win a Belmont Park allowance race by eight lengths on July 7.’
      • ‘Kris Kin won the Epsom Derby by one length for trainer Sir Michael Stoute and owner Saeed Suhail.’
      • ‘As they moved through the middle of the race the Evers-Swindells had extended their lead to a boat length over Germany.’
      • ‘He has not raced since finishing six lengths behind winner Clodovil in the French Two Thousand Guineas on May 11.’
      • ‘Innox was seventh last year, almost 39 lengths behind the winner.’
      • ‘They led the whole race finishing a boat length ahead of the Irish.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Briolette hung on for second, one length in front of stakes winner Asawer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Asi Siempre raced less than two lengths behind leader Elle Runaway entering the stretch.’
      • ‘The bay colt won a maiden race by seven lengths at Del Mar on August 17 in his second career start.’
      • ‘Making most of the running, Simmies Charm finished with three lengths to spare over Tinas Dilemma in 30.78.’
      • ‘Stakes winner Questionable Past finished one length ahead of Turn to Lass, who finished third.’
      • ‘At the final turn he led by eight lengths and held on comfortably for a very popular win.’
      • ‘His latest success was achieved by 11 lengths at Doncaster last month when he justified favouritism in impressive style.’
      • ‘Bachelor Duke scored by one length over Azamour in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas on May 22 at the Curragh.’
      • ‘The Go for Gin colt won an allowance race by eight lengths at Belmont Park on June 7 in his last start.’
      • ‘Magna Graduate kept close to the leaders on the inside and moved to within one length of pacesetter Tani Maru through six furlongs.’
      • ‘She took the lead inside the final furlong and finished two lengths clear of Godolphin Racing's Quecha.’
    4. 1.4 The 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On the first day she had had her skirt to the regulation length.’
      • ‘Her outfit consisted of a simple skirt of average length, a long-sleeved shirt, and casual makeup.’
      • ‘It's really a matter of choosing the skirt shape and length which best suits your figure and shows off your assets.’
      • ‘If it's just a normal cuff, decide what length you want the pants, then add about 1.5 inches.’
      • ‘During seasons where miniskirts was all the rage, she countered by showing designs with hems at a more wearable length.’
      • ‘The length and the more structured cut makes it easy to pair with the rest of your wardrobe.’
      • ‘Finally, remember that trouser length can vary from one style of pants to another.’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 1.5 The 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. 1.6one's length The full extent of one's body.
      ‘he awkwardly lowered his length into the small car’
    7. 1.7Prosody Phonetics The metrical quantity or duration of a vowel or syllable.
      • ‘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’
    • ‘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 amount depends on length of service and other variables.’
    • ‘Interesting, though, is the fact that I find it harder and harder these days to spend long lengths of time in smoky clubs.’
    • ‘But figuring out the lengths of days of yore isn't as easy as subtracting two milliseconds for every century.’
    • ‘The tilt of the earth not only gives us the changing day lengths, but the seasons as well.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The answers range in length from about 2 to 4 minutes.’
    • ‘Much of Inuit life was adapted to the extremes of summer and winter night lengths.’
    • ‘This would determine the number of insects, the lengths of winters, the directions of the winds and how long they blew.’
    • ‘Is the store's clientele extensive enough that a sale will happen within a reasonable length of time?’
    • ‘Day length is a stable seasonal cue and controls biological changes in a host of species.’
    • ‘Season start times and lengths have also changed in certain regions and Sunday hunting is being offered in several new areas.’
    • ‘Under this method different amounts of interest are charged for months of different lengths.’
    • ‘Child benefits will be tied to the length of service and amount of contributions paid until the baby is born.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The plans are aimed at evening out term lengths.’
    • ‘Alternatively, one can investigate how the day length has changed not just over the past decade, but also over 200 or 300 decades.’
    • ‘The videos range in length from two to 31 minutes and will be projected directly onto the building's glass façade.’
    • ‘The feeling of discouragement usually goes away within a reasonable length of time.’
    period, duration, stretch, term, span
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  • 3A piece or stretch of something.

    ‘a stout length of wood’
    • ‘‘You can still see pebbles in the stone,’ says Gerry, caressing the surface of a length of wall down by Kaleyard's Gate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So, armed with a length of twine, I set off to capture the dog.’
    • ‘A length of outside stone wall has been dated back to pre-1066.’
    • ‘Maria carefully rolled the piece, winding a length of sticky tape around the tube, stowing it in her bag.’
    • ‘The ferrets, as many as six at a time, are run along a length of pipe.’
    • ‘Attacking them with a blunt object, such as a length of wood, could be also considered cruel, at least for the Rottweiler.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is holding a length of curtain material in front of him while a young woman attempts to crawl between his legs.’
    • ‘Marcus bundled the man inside and secured the lid with a length of washing line taken from the outside balcony.’
    • ‘It was replaced at half time by a length of plastic piping that is normally used as a goal post during Little League games.’
    • ‘Suddenly he was behind me, a length of white cord stretched tightly between his two hands.’
    • ‘They weave cotton into strips of cloth, which are then sewn together, forming a length of fabric.’
    • ‘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 group has been fundraising the estimated $8 million needed to run a length of track from London Farm to Garry Point Park.’
    • ‘Instead he's trying to tie a length of rope onto his daughter Hillary's climbing harness.’
    • ‘From her right hand dangled a length of line, weighted by a piece of lead in the size and shape of a split pea.’
    • ‘You can construct a model of this surface from a length of foam rubber with a square cross section.’
    • ‘A physical barrier can be as elaborate as a wood-framed cage of window screen, or as simple as a length of row cover.’
    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’
    • ‘Some of them deliberately cultivate an extremely casual look, and go to great lengths to sport outlandish hairstyles.’
    • ‘Infertility was a deeply distressing problem and childless couples would go to great lengths to raise money to fund treatment, he said.’
    • ‘Milgram's shocking experiment years ago demonstrated the lengths people go to to satisfy authority.’
    • ‘Hospital staff are sometimes advised to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid taking responsibility for deaths or accidents.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I told Sean I go to great lengths to look like his mom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Modern psychoanalytic practice goes to great lengths to quarantine the psychoanalytic conversation from the real world.’
    • ‘But the episode starkly illustrated the lengths to which many universities were prepared to go to maintain student numbers and thereby their funding.’
    • ‘Adults with literacy difficulties are very vulnerable and go to great lengths to keep their circumstances secret, often from their partners and children.’
    • ‘Let's face it, women have gone to great lengths over the centuries, to keep their beauty techniques under wraps.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘People forget the legacy of public service and the lengths that people will go to in living up to their responsibilities.’
    • ‘But why do you go to such lengths to criticize them across the board?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At a tax rate of $20 per carton, smokers will go to great lengths to find alternative, cheaper ways to get their cigarettes.’
    • ‘We go to great lengths to make seemingly easy connections with an audience.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    do absolutely anything, go to any extreme, go to any limits, observe no limits
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  • 5(in bridge or whist) the number of cards of a suit held in one's hand, especially when five or more.

    • ‘Ones of longer lengths win, with high cards breaking ties and loose high cards breaking further ties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’

Phrases

  • at length

    • 1In detail; fully.

      ‘these aspects have been discussed at length’
      • ‘Almost every work by Poulenc is at least mentioned, and some are discussed at length.’
      • ‘His office had been right next to mine, and we had discussed everything at length.’
      • ‘He spoke at length and in detail to the engineers following his hard-fought seventh place at Sepang.’
      • ‘Explain in detail and at length what you expect both you and your potential ally to accomplish.’
      • ‘A spokesman for the council said the details of the plans have been discussed at length.’
      • ‘He would talk at length about his theories on winning behaviours and Woodward and his team of coaches would then apply them to rugby.’
      • ‘One elderly lady spoke at length about her granddaughter who lived nearby.’
      • ‘Every staffer and volunteer was asked to discuss at length, and in great detail, all the aspects of their job.’
      • ‘One frail elderly man ranted on at length about a catalogue of mistakes on his account, some of which went back to 1939.’
      • ‘This and other similar questions are discussed at length in these essays.’
      thoroughly, fully, in detail, in depth, comprehensively, exhaustively, completely, extensively, to the fullest extent
      for a long time, for ages, for hours, on and on, interminably, endlessly, incessantly, ceaselessly, constantly, continually, unendingly, eternally, forever
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    • 2After a long time.

      ‘at length she laid down the pencil’
      • ‘The news controllers were at length forced to grapple with the issue by their correspondents' remarks.’
      after a long time, after a considerable time, eventually, in time, in the long run, in the fullness of time
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  • the length and breadth of

    • The whole extent of.

      ‘women from the length and breadth of Russia’
      • ‘Their graves are scattered throughout the length and breadth of Europe.’
      • ‘They are scattered over the length and breadth of the county.’
      • ‘Instead he has a brand new show, much of it drawn from an unlikely source, his weeks spent walking the length and breadth of the country.’
      • ‘Volunteers like this assist with charities and other community events throughout the length and breadth of our country.’
      • ‘In later years public demand saw him travelling the length and breadth of the country to deliver his budget speeches to rapt audiences.’
      • ‘Omar stated that the human rights abuses are going across the length and breadth of the state and even the womenfolk are not being spared.’
      • ‘Mr. Haneef says that he has travelled the length and breadth of Kerala over the last two decades collecting these records.’
      • ‘Yet, in a very short time, we had to operate across the length and breadth of that remote nation, using every branch of the armed forces.’
      • ‘These actions are being undertaken in thousands of locations across the length and breadth of the U.S.’
      • ‘Johnny of course is known throughout the length and breadth of Ireland and has numerous tapes, CDs and videos to his credit.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation