late 13c., "quarrel, estrangement, discord, strife," from Old French destance (13c.), from Latin distantia "a standing apart," from distantem (nominative distans) "standing apart, separate, distant," present participle of distare "stand apart," from dis- "apart, off" (see dis-) + stare "to stand" (see stet).
Meaning "remoteness, space between things or places" is late 14c. The figurative sense of "aloofness" is the same as in stand-offish. Phrase go the distance (1930s) seems to be originally from the prize ring, where the word meant "scheduled length of a bout."
1570s (transitive); 1640s (intransitive), from distance (n.). Related: Distanced; distancing.
distance dis·tance (dĭs'təns)
The extent of space between two objects or places; an intervening space.
To finish an arduous effort; persist to the end: Don't start this if you can't go the distance (1940s+ fr horse racing)