Language: Old English
Origin: lengthu, from lang; LONG1


length S2 W2


[uncountable and countable] the measurement of how long something is from one end to the other [↪ breadth, width]:
We measured the length and width of the living room.
a length of 1 metre/2 feet etc
Some fish can grow to a length of four feet.
2 feet/10 metres etc in length
The hotel pool is 15 metres in length.
You'll need several pieces of string of different lengths.


[uncountable and countable] the amount of time that you spend doing something or that something continues [↪ duration]
length of
Your pension will depend on your length of employment.
What's the average length of stay in hospital?
(not) for any length of time (=not for very long)
He wasn't left alone for any length of time.

books/films etc

[uncountable and countable] the amount of writing in a book, or the amount of time that a film, play etc continues
length of
We had to cut the length of the book by one third.
of this length
Films of this length (=as long as this) are pretty unusual.

run/stretch/walk etc the (full) length of something

to go or move from one end to the other of something:
The wall ran the full length of the garden.
They walked the length of the pier.

shoulder-length/knee-length etc

reaching down as far as your shoulders etc:
shoulder-length hair
an ankle-length dress

go to some/great/any lengths (to do something)

to try very hard or to do whatever is necessary to achieve something that is important to you:
He went to great lengths to keep their name out of the papers.
Bella would go to any lengths to fulfil her ambition.

at (some/great etc) length

a) if you talk at length about something, you talk about it for a long time
speak/talk etc at length
The young people spoke at length about their experiences.
We've already discussed the subject at great length.
b) literary after a long time:
'I don't agree,' she said at length.

the length and breadth of the area/country/land etc

in or through every part of a large area:
The police searched the length and breadth of the country.


[countable] a piece of something long and thin

in races

[countable]DSH the measurement of a horse, boat etc from one end to the other - used when saying how far the horse, boat etc is ahead of another
by a/one/two etc lengths
The horse won by three lengths.


[countable]DSS the distance from one end of a swimming pool to the other
do/swim a length
She does at least 20 lengths a day.

➔ hold something at arm's length

at arm1 (8)

; ➔ keep/hold somebody at arm's length

at arm1 (9), full-length1