Tyranny of Distance – Meaning & Origin

The English language is incredibly vast and rich. It has plenty of very colorful and evocative phrases. They might pique your interest, and you’ll wonder what they mean.

“Tyranny of distance” is an example of such a phrase. This article will explain what it means.

Tyranny of Distance – Meaning

“Tyranny of distance” is a phrase referring to the influence that the UK had on the development of Australia. The phrase conveys the idea that the UK shaped Australia’s culture in spite of being physically far from it. It’s a useful concept to keep in mind when thinking about colonialism.

Tyranny of Distance meaning

The phrase originally applies to the way in which the UK defined Australian culture. However, nowadays people might use the phrase to talk about the relationship between two countries, the colonizer and the colonized.

A common mistake is when people say “tryanny of distance” rather than tyranny of distance. This is an understandable mistake, since “tyranny” is an uncommon word.

Here are some example sentences that use the phrase, so that you’re familiar with it:

  • I believe that Ted Leo will benefit from understanding the tyranny of distance.
  • Even decades after the fact, the tyranny of distance still applies as a concept.
  • You can’t forget about the tyranny of distance and its effect on us.
  • The tyranny of distance defined so many things about the way our military works.

Tyranny of Distance – Origin

The phrase “tyranny of distance” comes from a book by Geoffrey Blainey. This book establishes the modern definition of the term.

It’s defined as the way that countries from half over the world affect other countries through colonialism.

The tyranny of distance is a fairly common concept in Australian culture.

The book by Blainey talks about the way in which the United Kingdom has controlled many aspects of Australian culture over the decades. Following its release in 1966, “tyranny of distance” became a common term.

Tyranny of Distance – Synonyms

“Tyranny of distance” is a useful phrase to talk about colonialism and nation states. There are other phrases that convey the exact same thing as “tyranny of distance”. Here are some synonyms you can use instead:

  • Absolutism of distance
  • Autocracy of distance
  • Despotism of distance
  • Totalitarianism of distance
  • Oppression of distance

Incorrect Ways to Use “Tyranny of Distance”

There are ways in which people use “tyranny of distance” incorrectly.

An incorrect use of the phrase is implying that it talks about distance within a country itself. This means that the phrase doesn’t apply to the fact that nations have centralized governments that rule the entire nation.

It’s incorrect to assume that the phrase talks about space within a nation. Rather, the “distance” is distance between nations. Specifically, the colonized nation and the colonizer nation.

In What Situations Can You Use “Tyranny of Distance”?

There are plenty of situations in which you can use “tyranny of distance”.

If you’re discussing colonization, that’s the perfect situation to use “tyranny of distance”. You can also use this phrase if you’re talking about the relationship between Australia and the UK.