Difference Between Length vs Width

Difference Between Length vs Width

Distance has the same meaning in every application, but when you are talking about the distance between two points in a shape, you have to define it in terms of height and breadth, or in terms of vertical and horizontal. In this article, our focus will be on the difference between length and width.

In elementary school, pupils were meant to believe that the length of an object is the longest, while the width is the shorter plane. But a lot of scholars argue that the length of a figure is simply the height of the figure in alignment with a vertical plane, while the width of a figure is the breadth in alignment with a horizontal plane. In essence, it does not have anything to do with which is the longest or the shortest.

Definition of Length

Length is a fundamental one-dimensional unit that describes the longest geometric measurement of an element from one end to the other. It is used to quantify distance from one point to another and is the lengthiest in the three dimensions of a figure.

This term originated from the Germans and was later adopted by the English. Since then, it has been used to describe the biggest distance from point A to B. Virtually every object and body has a length, but in the confinement of a classroom, scholars are mostly taught about this measurement using a definite shape.

Here are some examples to further illustrate the difference between width and length with the use of solid shapes. The first example that readily comes to mind is the square. It has four equal sides, which means there is no particular side that is greater than the other that can be defined as the length or the width. To make things simpler, all the sides of a square are referred to as the length.

A rectangle is a better example. It has four sides, but they are not all the same length. The horizontal sides are longer than the vertical sides, which means the horizontal sides constitute the length and the vertical sides constitute the width of the shape.

Definition of Width

Width is defined as a fundamental one-dimensional unit that describes the geometric measurement of an element from side to side. Note that in this case, the measurement is from side to side as opposed to length, which is measured from end to end. In other words, this term can also be defined as the shortest side of an object or body in comparison to a certain length.

This concept defines how broad an entity is. It is one of the earliest known measurements used by the people of Egypt, Elam, the Indus Valley, and Mesopotamia in the third millennia BC. It has remained in use until this day in solving mathematical problems.

The distance from one side of a door to the other is a good example of this concept. If it is a regular door, then it is a rectangular plane with a height that is longer than the breadth. A triangle has three sides, the shortest of which is the width.

Main Differences Between Length vs Width

In this section, we will make a length vs width comparison to show how these two are different from each other in clearer terms. Note that the illustration below relates to plane figures.

Basis of ComparisonLengthWidth
DefinitionA fundamental one-dimensional unit that describes the longest geometric measurement of an element from one end to the otherA fundamental one-dimensional unit that describes the geometric measurement of an element from side to side
DeterminesHow long an object or a body measuresHow wide an object measures
PlaneUsually verticalUsually horizontal

Difference Between Length and Width: Conclusion

In the width vs length comparison, it is obvious that the longest side that forms a right angle is usually referred to as length, while the shortest side that forms a right angle is defined as the width. These measures are applied in our daily lives, and they form fundamental parts of many mathematical formulas.