Word of the Day


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Origin of the word

Remote is late Middle English in origin. The word dates from the period 1375 to 1425 and draws on the Latin ‘remōtus’, or ‘removed’, which itself is the past participle of ‘removere’ meaning ‘to move back or away’. The Middle French ‘remot’ also had an influence on the development of the word. Remote control – as in control from a distance – dates from 1904. The use of the term remote control when referring to a device dates from 1920.


In one sense of the word, remote is used in a negative way to refer to an individual’s lack of sociability, as in the sentence: “She is remote from other people”.

In another context, and drawing on its Latin origins, remote can be used to describe the distance of a physical object from somewhere else: “Their house is in a remote location.” Synonyms for remote include ‘isolated’ and ‘solitary’.

In modern usage, remote has been employed to describe the operation of something from a distance. Examples include such remotely operated vehicles as drones, a type of aircraft without a human pilot on board that is operated by a controller on the ground using a system of communication between the two. From their origins in military uses, drones have expanded into increasingly commercial contexts, being used for the delivery of parcels. Drones have even become something enjoyed by hobbyists, especially for the purposes of aerial photography.

Other examples of remotely operated vehicles include submersibles used for deep underwater exploration. The original use of remote in this sense was in respect of television remote controls, the first version of which was developed in 1950 by Zenith Radio Corporation.

Remote has also been used to describe radio and television broadcasts from locations outside of the studio.


1. Far away from other cities, towns or people.
2. Far away in the past or future.
3. Not likely to happen.
4. Not showing any friendly interest in other people.
5. Capable of being operated from a distance or by using a remote control.
6. Not connected or relevant to something.

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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