Definition: Latitude

From New World Encyclopedia


Borrowed into Middle English from Old French latitude, from Latin lātitūdō (“breadth, width, latitude”), from lātus (“broad, wide”), from older stlātus.


latitude (countable and uncountable, plural latitudes)

  1. (geography) The angular distance north or south from the equator, measured along the meridian of that particular point.
  2. (geography) An imaginary line (in fact a circle) around the Earth running parallel to the equator.
  3. (figuratively) The relative freedom from restrictions.
    His parents gave him a great deal of latitude.
  4. The angular distance of a heavenly body from the ecliptic.
  5. (photography) The extent to which a light-sensitive material can be over- or underexposed and still achieve an acceptable result.
  6. Extent or scope; e.g. breadth, width or amplitude.

Usage notes

  • When used to refer to distances or imaginary lines around a planet, latitude is relative to the Earth's Equator unless another planet is specified.

Derived terms

  • ascending latitude
  • circle of latitude
  • geographical latitude
  • high latitude
  • low latitude


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