[ ki-lom-i-ter, kil-uh-mee‐ ]
/ kɪˈlɒm ɪ tər, ˈkɪl əˌmi‐ /


a unit of length, the common measure of distances equal to 1000 meters, and equivalent to 3280.8 feet or 0.621 mile. Abbreviation: km
Also especially British, kil·o·me·tre.

Origin of kilometer

From the French word kilomètre, dating back to 1800–10. See kilo-, meter1

pronunciation note for kilometer

The usual pronunciation for units of measurement starting with kilo-, as kilocalorie, kiloliter, and kilohertz, as well as for units of length ending in the base word meter, as centimeter, hectometer, and millimeter, gives primary stress to the first syllable and secondary to the third. It would seem logical for kilometer to follow this pattern, and in fact the pronunciation [kil-uh-mee-ter] /ˈkɪl əˌmi tər/ has been used since the early 1800's. A second pronunciation: [ki-lom-i-ter] /kɪˈlɒm ɪ tər/, with stress on the second syllable only, was first recorded in America before 1830. Although often criticized on the basis of analogy, this pronunciation has persisted in American English, increasing in frequency, and has gained popularity in British English as well. It is reinforced by words for instruments (rather than units) of measurement ending in -meter, as thermometer, barometer, and speedometer, having stress on the -om syllable. Both pronunciations are used by educated speakers, including members of the scientific community.


kil·o·met·ric [kil-uh-me-trik] /ˌkɪl əˈmɛ trɪk/, kil·o·met·ri·cal, adjective

Example sentences from the Web for kilometre

British Dictionary definitions for kilometre


US kilometer

/ (kɪˈlɒmɪtə, ˈkɪləˌmiːtə) /


one thousand metres, equal to 0.621371 miles Symbol: km

Derived forms of kilometre

kilometric (ˌkɪləʊˈmɛtrɪk) or kilometrical, adjective

Scientific definitions for kilometre

[ kĭ-lŏmĭ-tər, kĭlə-mē′tər ]

A unit of length in the metric system equal to 1,000 meters (0.62 mile). See Table at measurement.

Cultural definitions for kilometre

[ (ki-lom-uh-tuhr, kil-uh-mee-tuhr) ]

In the metric system, one thousand meters, or about five-eighths of a mile.