'Width' vs 'Length': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on September 4, 2023

If you are looking for an explanation of the difference between 'width' vs. 'depth,' I can help!

Here is the short version:

  • 'Width' is a noun for the horizontal measurement of something from right angle to right angle.
  • 'Length' is a noun for the longest measurement of an item. 

Knowing the difference between ‘width’ and ‘length’ is essential for almost everyone. The measurements are required when you are ordering building materials, clothing, furniture, shipping, and many other things. 

So, keep reading! 

What is the Difference Between 'Width' vs. 'Length?'

‘Width’ and ‘length’ are both measurements. So, it is important to know what someone means when they ask you. 

  • ‘Width’ is typically the shorter measurement of an item, while ‘length’ is generally the longest measurement. 

Here are a few examples of ‘width’ vs. ‘length’: 

  • If you are measuring a sofa, the ‘width’ would be the distance from the back of the couch to the front, and the ‘length’ would be the distance from the left arm of the couch to the right arm. 
  • When you are measuring a door frame, the ‘width’ of the door would be from the right side to the left, and the ‘length’ would be the measurement from the top of the door to the bottom. 
  • If you are measuring blinds, the ‘width’ would be the distance from the left side of the window to the right, and the ‘length’ would be the distance from the top of the window frame to the bottom. 
  • When you are measuring a football field, the ‘width’ would be the distance from one sideline to the other, and the ‘length’ measurement is from one goalpost to the other. 

'Length' can also refer to the duration of time it takes to complete something.

When and How to Use 'Width' vs. 'Length'

Now that you have an idea of the difference between ‘width’ vs. length here are some tips for when and how to use each term. 

  • Use ‘width’ to describe the distance across something. 

For example, you might say: 

The width of the car is the measurement from one door to the other. 

  • Use ‘length’ to give the longest measurement of something. 

As an example, I might say: 

They measured the length of the car from bumper to bumper. 

  • Use 'length' for the duration of something.

So, you could say:

The length of the production was too long. People started losing interest towards the end. 

  • Use 'length' when a note is held or a sound is stressed.

For example, you can say:

The note is held for a length of four counts.

Definition of 'Width': What Does 'Width' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the nounwidth’ as: 

  • A horizontal measurement opposite of the length taken from one right angle to another

It can also mean:

  • Breadth
  • The size or the extent, or scope of something
  • A cut, measured piece of material

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Width'

  • Scope
  • Realm
  • Extent
  • Range
  • Breadth
  • Compass
  • Reach
  • Confines
  • Amplitude
  • Sweep
  • Dimensions
  • Domain
  • Region
  • Ambit
  • Spread
  • Panorama

Definition of 'Length': What Does 'Length' Mean?

The same source defines ‘length’ as: 

  • The longest or longer measurement of an object

It can also mean:

  • A measured dimension or distance of an object
  • The duration of time it takes to complete something
  • The time the sound of a letter or musical note is stressed
  • The unit of measurement of the length of an object
  • The degree of a course of action or train of thought
  • An extended stretch or expanse
  • The usable piece of a whole or connected material like a length of pipe
  • The vertical or longest dimension of an article of clothing

Synonyms and Similar Words to 'Length'

  • Expansion
  • Expanse
  • Distance
  • Breadth
  • Stretch
  • Extent
  • Plain
  • Depth
  • Reach
  • Spread
  • Extension
  • Spectrum
  • Waste
  • Amplitude
  • Magnitude
  • Scale
  • Territory
  • Confines
  • Void
  • Latitude

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Width' vs. 'Length'

Now, let’s look at the pronunciation of these terms. People often overlook pronunciation when they are learning new words, but learning proper pronunciation is vital whether you are learning English as a second language or trying to improve your writing skills. 

So, here is a pronunciation guide for ‘width’ vs. ‘length’ that you can reference. 

  • Use this phonetic spelling to properly pronounce ‘width’: 

width or wi(t)th

  • Use this phonetic spelling to properly pronounce ‘length’: 

len(k)th or len(t)th

Sample Sentences Using 'Width' vs. 'Length'

Next, read these sample sentences using ‘width’ vs. ‘length’ to ensure that you understand how to use the terms in different contexts. 


  • We had to measure the width of the door to make sure that we could fit our new appliances through it. 
  • The width of the bed was barely big enough to fit two people. 
  • The width of the airplane chair was not enough for the oversized football player. 
  • A queen size bed has a standard width of 60 inches. 
  • The width of the safe was too big to fit through the tiny door frame.


  • The basketball player’s feet hung off the end of the bed because its length was too short. 
  • He had to order pants that were specially made for him because he needed a longer length than they carried in the store. 
  • We join you for the entire length of the journey. 
  • The queen-sized bed has a length of 80 inches. 
  • The length of the book was too long, so people rarely finished it.


  • In order to create a shipment, you need to input the width and length of the package. 
  • We are having a fence built for our dog run with a width of 12 feet and a length of 24 feet
  • Please provide the measurements for the width and length of the comforter you would like to order. 
  • A California king mattress has a width of 72 inches and a length of 84 inches. 

Recap: The Difference Between 'Width' vs. 'Length'

You learned a lot in this guide. So, let’s do a quick recap of what you learned about ‘width’ vs. ‘length’:

  • ‘Width’ is the horizontal measurement of the distance from one right corner to the other opposite of the length of an object. 
  • 'Length' is the vertical or longest measurement of an object from end to end. 

Remembering the difference between terms like these can be challenging even after you learn what they mean. So, if you ever get mixed up on 'width' and 'length,' you can always return to this post to review this lesson.

You can also learn about hundreds of other confusing words here, whether you need to verify the accuracy of a term or want to expand your vocabulary and improve your grammar skills.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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