late 13c., from O.Fr. destance
, from L. distantia
"a standing apart," from distantem
) "standing apart, separate, distant," prp. of distare
"stand apart," from dis-
"apart, off" + stare
"to stand" (see stet
). The figurative sense is the same as in stand-offish.
Phrase go the distance
(1930s) seems to be originally from boxing.