Definition: Inch

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English ynche, enche, from Old English ynċe, from Latin uncia (“Roman inch, various similar units”), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *óynos (“one”). Cognate with Middle Dutch enke (“thumb, thumb's width, inch”). Doublet of a, one, ounce, uncia, onça, onza, oka, ouguiya, and awqiyyah.


inch (plural inches)

  1. A unit of length equal to one-twelfth of a foot and equivalent to exactly 2.54 centimeters, roughly the width of a thumb.
  2. (figuratively) A very short distance.
    Don't move an inch!
  3. (meteorology) The amount of water which would cover a surface to the depth of an inch, used as a measurement of rainfall.
  4. A depth of one inch in a glass, used as a rough measurement of alcoholic beverages.


inch (third-person singular simple present inches, present participle inching, simple past and past participle inched)

  1. (intransitive, followed by a preposition) To advance very slowly, or by a small amount (in a particular direction)
    Fearful of falling, he inched along the window ledge.


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