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"A stone's throw" is often used to describe a short distance. Is there a widely recognized English word or expression that similarly describes an intermediate distance, but which does not actually involve any direct measurement of that distance?

For example, consider that what might be a stone's throw to a farmer talking about a neighbor, probably wouldn't count as one to someone visiting from the city, even though they would both be talking about the same specific distance.

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How intermediate a distance? A 20-minute walk? A day's walk? – Lisa Aug 3 '11 at 8:28
a few hundred yards? – JoseK Aug 3 '11 at 8:29
@Lisa, If I'm out walking the dog in nice weather, "a stone's throw" might be a kilometer. If I'm carrying something big and heavy, a few dozen meters might not be a stone's throw. What counts as a stone's throw to a farmer talking about a neighbor might not for someone visiting from the city. Like I said, often heavily context-dependent. What I'm looking for is something in between that stone's throw, and far. – Michael Kjörling Aug 3 '11 at 8:32
"A few miles" is an intermediate that's definitely well over a stone's throw but still close enough to pop in for a cup of tea... Is that what you're looking for? – Lisa Aug 3 '11 at 8:38
@Lisa, I was actually hoping for something that doesn't involve any direct measurement of distance, but if no one has a better suggestion, I suppose a few miles could work. It sounds like "within cooee of" would be better, but I doubt it would be widely recognized; I certainly have never come across the expression before. – Michael Kjörling Aug 3 '11 at 8:47
up vote 3 down vote accepted

A country mile means a fair distance; for some reason, a country mile is thought larger than other kinds of miles. This source here has it as a "great distance", but I don't think that's quite right. A country mile is a fair step, not a long way.

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Country mile is not bad. A fair step, I think, works even better for what I was looking for. – Michael Kjörling Aug 3 '11 at 12:56

This doesn't follow your "widely recognised" criterion, but I thought I would mention in Australia the phrase "within cooee" is similar to a "stone's throw", but the distance would be much greater. It is supposed to be the distance at which you can hear another person bellowing the long oo and ee vowels.

From Wikipedia:

Cooee! (IPA /ku:'i:/) is a shout used in Australia, usually in the Bush, to attract attention, find missing people, or indicate one's own location. When done correctly - loudly and shrilly - a call of "cooee" can carry over a considerable distance.


An expression "within cooee of" has developed. It means "not far from", and seems to be confined to New Zealand and Australian English, and is often used in the negative sense (ie "not within cooee of" meaning not close to).

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A related common American expression is "shouting distance." – Kit Z. Fox Aug 3 '11 at 11:51

What about an obvious: a few stone throws away?

There is some complexity in imagining, and a lot of uncertainty, of how far that actually would be; do note that even the term "stone throw away" is very often used metaphorically - for distances that are obviously further away than stone throwing range, but are comparatively short in the given context.

Such use suggest that there is no common term that would be useful, however you always have other options, for example:

  • 20 minutes away, by { insert mode of transport: foot, car, bicycle, etc }

which can be considered intermediate distance expressed in commonly understandable way.

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Yes, the whole point would be to avoid mentioning specific distances, which is why I started off with the stone throw. I know that that expression is often (perhaps even nearly always?) used metaphorically. +1 to this, although I do think a fair step is even better. – Michael Kjörling Aug 3 '11 at 12:58

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