My spellchecker insists on replacing "furthest" with "farthest". I was under the impression that farthest is strictly speaking in terms of distance, whereas furthest is more abstract.

A poster on this forum gives the following example:

The further [quantity] you walk, the farther [distance] you get.

What gives?


The NOAD I had on my Mac Mini reported the following note, which is the same note found on the Oxford Living Dictionaries about farther and farthest.

Traditionally, farther and farthest were used in referring to physical distance: the falls were still two or three miles farther up the path. Further and furthest were restricted to figurative or abstract senses: we decided to consider the matter further. Although farther and farthest are still restricted to measurable distances, further and furthest are now common in both senses: put those plants the furthest from the window.

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  • 4
    For some active examples: I must investigate further before making any conclusions. vs. I have moved farther from the city because the environment is much nicer here.* – Karl Apr 6 '11 at 12:44

I totally agree with the answer above. I rarely hear "farther" or "farthest" anymore. Most people say "further" these days. I was just watching some Olympic coverage on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and the commentators always used "further" when describing ski jumping distance. Most people seem to think "further" sounds better, and they'd rather not have to think about which word to choose, so they simply default to that.

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In a grammar book l bought recently I found an enty which read as follows ;Far-further, furthest. When I went to school we were taught that the comparative adjective Far became farther than ,when we talk about physical distance . Bari is Farther from Milan than Venice. Further is used in an abstact sense. He arrived further up in his career than his sister.

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  • Welcome to EL&U, Pam. Thank you for your answer, but please provide the name of the book where you found the information you mention. Try to write to the best of your ability, with correct punctuation and spelling. Read "How do I write a good answer?" to find tips on how to write great answers. – Juan M Nov 22 '16 at 21:14

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