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


Related topics: Horses, Swimming, Measurement
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

Dictionary results for "length"
Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.