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striking distance (plural striking distances)

  1. (military) A distance at which a soldier, military force, vessel, etc. is sufficiently near to be able to attack an opponent.
    • 1845, James Fenimore Cooper, Satanstoe, ch. 19:
      "Nay, sir, a soldier, who is about to be posted within striking distance of his enemy, can never speak, with confidence, of separations that are to be short."
    • 1900, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Great Boer War, ch. 19:
      The two brigades at either end of the Boer lines had lost no chance of pushing in, and now they had come within striking distance.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) A distance at which one is sufficiently near to an objective to have an opportunity to achieve it.
    • 1917, Victor Appleton, Tom Swift in the Land of Wonders, ch. 4:
      I'm working on an invention of a new aeroplane stabilizer, and if I go now it will be just at a time when I am within striking distance of success.
    • 1990, Christopher Redman et al., "Europe An Island No More Hello! Allo!," Time, 12 Nov.:
      The probe breakthrough confirmed that French and British tunnelers were within striking distance of completing the first tunnel under the English Channel.