I need the correct English word for the German expression (zeitlicher) Abstand. Abstand means "distance", and zeitlich means "in time".

The "distance" between building maintenance dates is about ten days.

Would "lag/spacing" be correct, as Langenscheidt translates it? I doubt it.

My guess would be "interval", but it sounds a bit too mathematical to me.

  • 2
    Related: Is there a single word for a “unit of time”?
    – snumpy
    May 26, 2011 at 12:49
  • I have made your third line an example sentence, because it was almost one, and because it made your question easier to parse. Feel free to roll back if you don't like it. May 26, 2011 at 13:41
  • 1
    You might consider rephrasing it. "Building maintenance dates occur about every ten days." Otherwise, I think interval is pretty common and not as mathematical as you might think.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    May 26, 2011 at 14:06
  • 1
    It's not a sentence, it's a column title in a table.
    – Quandary
    May 27, 2011 at 12:00

4 Answers 4


When referring to 'distance in time', the best word is:


There is also:


  • 3
    +1, and you can reassure OP that interval is not strictly technical ("interval between contractions")
    – Unreason
    May 26, 2011 at 12:44
  • 1
    It should be noted that "interval" to me suggest some kind of recurrence. That's fine for my use case, but it's not perfect in the sense that "distance" does not necessarily imply recurrence. "time span" would be a term that fits as a better general translation.
    – Quandary
    Jul 19, 2013 at 13:14

duration or period

The duration between building maintenance dates is about ten days.


The period between building maintenance dates is about ten days.

Alternatives include:

  • time
  • time span
  • interval
  • term
  • spell
  • interim
  • tide
  • space
  • stretch
  • spread
  • gap
  • interlude
  • opening
  • pause
  • I like time span, because it's the only reasonable alternative that doesn't imply some kind of recurrence.
    – Quandary
    Jul 19, 2013 at 13:10
  • @Quandary "Duration" doesn't imply recurrence either.
    – Muhd
    Jan 28, 2014 at 19:26

Wouldn't time do in this case?

As in time between building maintenance dates is about ten days.

Update: If it is a column title and not a sentence as the OP mentioned in the comments, either Interval or Time Interval would be a better choice.


"timespan" ?


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