Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Distance-Distant Distinction

I’m taking a stance this instant and insisting distance should be distant.

Distance is a noun that usually refers to the degree or amount of separation between two objects. The separation can be measured in physical length or on an emotional level. Distant is an adjective; it describes someone or something that is separated spatially, or a person who is reserved or aloof. Allow me to use each in a short paragraph:

In the distant past, I lived within walking distance from the distant woman, but I kept my distance. Today I live in a distant galaxy, and there is considerable distance between us. She is a distant memory.

As you can see, it isn’t difficult to distinguish distant from distance. Why, then, has the distal letter in distant been dissed? I find that disturbing. We are, however, within striking distance of fixing this distracting distance-distant mistake. Let’s do it! Let’s go the distance!

In this instance, let’s step a safe distance away from distance. The ce should be t. As is the case in any “rat race,” t wins and ce comes in … wait for it … a distant second.

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