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Difference Between Length and Width

Length vs Width

There is currently some confusion going on when distinguishing length from width. The problem is that the descriptions of the two are somewhat different depending on where you learned it. If it’s within the confines of your classroom, most students are taught in mathematics that a rectangle parallelogram (with parallel sides) will have its longest side as the length while the shorter side is the width. This is regardless of whether the longer side is the vertical side or the horizontal side. However, many have observed that the length is usually the vertical, and the width is the one in line with the horizontal plane.

The confusion continues because in some other aspects the length is not always the longest measurement of an object. For example, some wires are actually thicker (width) as opposed to cutting their shorter lengths. FET transistors also have channel widths having greater measures than their channel length. In the layman’s understanding, though, length is simply describing how long something is while width is telling someone how wide an object is.

Width is otherwise known as the breadth. It is the distance from one side to the other side which measures across a particular shape or object whose lengths are forming right angles with the sides as in the case of a rectangle.

Length and width are two fundamental one-dimensional units compared to the measurement of the rectangle’s area which is a product of two units, the length and width. There are many units of length used today. The most basic of which is the meter in the SI units of measurement. Other units for length are: foot, yard, mile, and inch for the Imperial or English units of measurement. There are also some non-SI length units like: micron, Norwegian mil, angstrom, and Fermi.

Length can also refer to an extent of time like asking how long a certain activity will take. Some also use length in the same context as distance like when one says, “Hold it at arm’s length!”


1.Length is describing how long something is while width is describing how wide an object is.
2.In geometry, length pertains to the longest side of the rectangle while width is the shorter side.
3.Length can also refer to an extent of time or a measure of distance.
4.The most common unit for measuring length is the meter.

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  1. When the size of an advertisement is refered to there is no ambiguity. All over the world it is hight multiplied by width — where height is the verticle axis (top to bottom or north to south) and width is the horizontal axix (left to right or east to west).

  2. I am trying to understand the difference between the height of an object and the length. You confused me in your summary where you wrote that “width is also known as height.”

    • High is best applied to a 3 dimentional figure or to notate the high versus the base of a triangle. It seems that there is not clear convention about when to call a side the lenght or width. However, I think it is easier to just call the longest side the lenght and the shortest side the width.

    • Generally, height is used when dealing with a 3-dimensional object, taking the place of length or depth. In 2-dimensonal objects, length generally refers to the longest side of a shape, but does not always, and width is usually the side that is not called length. 😉

      Depth is used when talking about the distance past a surface (could be the front, top, or side), and when it’s used the other two measurements are usually length and width (when depth is from the top down), or width and height (when depth is from the front back).

  3. The length of a rectangle is 2m less than the length. The area of the rectangle is 48 meter square. Find the dimension of the rectangle

  4. if we take one side,say length,to be X then;
    l=X and
    w=X-2 therefore,
    X(X-2)=48…….solving the quadratic equation gives
    the value of X as, X=-6 or
    X=8 but length is usually positive so X=8
    The dimensions will be….
    length=8m and

  5. Good job!!!:)

  6. The measurement of a square object one side being longer than the other do you go width (The shortest side) and length (The longest side)when writing down the measurements?

    • A square can only have all sides to be equal. That is why the area of a square is 4 multiplied by one side
      We usually call this side the length

  7. The measurements of an 8 cup measure is 9.75×7.50×5.25. Does that mean the height is 9.75?

    • Hey, when measurements are used they are supposed to be written as width (W) x length (L) x height (H), but I know some larger companies (like Amazon) use L x W x H (not sure why either!), but in both instances, height is the last measurement listed. Sorry this response is so late. I’m just now finding this website 🙂

  8. Ok. So. If I am measuring some material to make a toy, is width going to be from the top of the bunny’s ears to the bottom of the bunny’s feet,and length going to be from one side of the bunny’s bum to the other? In other words, is width going to be top to bottom, and length from side to side? The pattern says 45″, 60″ Wide (toy D – 3/4 yard. Then the picture of the bunny says D 18″H. This is making me crazy. Please help. Thank you

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