There are 2 definitions of inch in English:


Line breaks: inch
Pronunciation: /ɪn(t)ʃ


1A unit of linear measure equal to one twelfth of a foot (2.54 cm): the toy train is four inches long eighteen inches of thread
More example sentences
  • A meter is about three feet and three inches and a kilometer equals about six tenths of a mile.
  • Arriving there, Legrand noted one particular ledge about twelve inches wide and eighteen inches long, several feet below the top of the rock.
  • Progress can be slow; you measure it in inches and feet, not miles or kilograms.
1.1 (inches) informal A person’s height or waist measurement: my only reservation is the goalkeeper’s lack of inches
More example sentences
  • Chef to the stars Juliano is the gourmet genius who has created a diet that he claims has taken years off her appearance and inches off her waist.
  • Plenty of cheesy sandwiches and desserts to add inches to the waist.
  • I had the peat mud wrap, but in the past I've had Pevonia's green coffee wrap at the Monart spa, in Ireland, which took inches off my waistline.
1.2 [often with negative] A very small amount or distance: I had no intention of budging an inch
More example sentences
  • After setting the distance in inches of my average step, I hooked it on to my waistband and flounced around the kitchen and dining room for several minutes.
  • Thirdly, despite working crazy hours I seemed to have all the ingredients needed for this particular tart without budging an inch.
  • Scalia budged not one inch during the question-and-answer period after a speech Tuesday at Amherst College in Massachusetts.
2A unit used to express other quantities, in particular:
More example sentences
  • New York City says cleanup generally means $1 million for each inch of snowfall.
  • Rainfall amounts still on the order of maybe two to five inches.
  • The airport gets about 120 inches of rain per year.
2.1(As a unit of rainfall) a quantity that would cover a horizontal surface to a depth of one inch, equivalent to 253.7 cubic metres per hectare: more than four inches of rain is expected
More example sentences
  • Almost four inches of rain fell on the region during a 12-hour period.
  • In July in 1861, an incredible 366 inches of rain fell during what had been a record-breaking year for rainfall in the region.
  • Boscastle, on the north coast of Cornwall, was struck after a downpour in which seven inches of rain fell in nine hours.
2.2 (also inch of mercury) (As a unit of atmospheric pressure) an amount that would support a column of mercury one-inch high in a barometer (equal to 33.86 millibars, 29.5 inches being equal to one bar).
More example sentences
  • What is the formula for converting pressure in millibars of pressure to inches of mercury?
  • Average barometric pressure in Tampa Bay during the summer is about 29.8 inches of mercury or about 1013 millibar (mb).
  • The amount of vacuum, in inches of mercury, is equal to the weight of the column of water from the water table to the surface.
2.3(As a unit of map scale) so many inches representing one mile on the ground: [in combination]: one-inch maps of the east Midland counties
More example sentences
  • For every town five detailed maps were drawn at a scale of two inches to the mile, accompanied by a legend.
  • A prime objective was to produce a map on the scale of one inch to the mile for the entire British Isles.
  • The charts of Moresby and Elwon were drafted by Felix Jones to a scale of one inch to the mile (in the trickier parts, ten inches to the mile), and published in 1834.


[no object, with adverbial of direction] Back to top  
1Move along slowly and carefully: he inched away as I approached figurative Spain’s conservatives are inching ahead
More example sentences
  • As I sat on a bus today, inching along in traffic, it became clear to me that all buses should be free.
  • Stealthily, you inch along a narrow and foreboding corridor.
  • The light was inching along slowly, but it had almost finished its circuit.
1.1 [with object and adverbial of direction] Cause (something) to move slowly and carefully: he inched the car forward
More example sentences
  • Aleck tried to pull the ring off, by slowly inching it forward and twisting from side to side, but had no luck either.
  • They kept begging and pleading with him, but he kept relentlessly inching the vehicle forward.
  • Only the edge of her profile was visible, so I inched it forward to get a better view.


late Old English ynce, from Latin uncia 'twelfth part', from unus 'one' (probably denoting a unit). Compare with ounce1.


by inches

Only just: the shot missed her by inches
More example sentences
  • A court heard that Bradley became annoyed after a shot missed his head by inches and none of Mr Haley's group had shouted ‘fore’ to warn him.
  • The next day, Stone Phillips missed me by inches on a shot near the ninth fairway.
  • Luckily for him, the Brazilian's shot misses the far post by inches.

every inch

1The whole surface, distance, or area: between them they know every inch of the country
More example sentences
  • Our hosts, Norsemaid Charters, have been in the business for 15 years and know every inch of the area.
  • Our driver, a prosperous local farmer from the area, knows every inch of the land.
  • Mike has subjected every inch of the floor and cabinet area around the sink to a microscopic sniff test.
2Entirely; very much so: he’s every inch the gentleman
More example sentences
  • Immaculately besuited, he is every inch the genial Latino gentleman.
  • Contrary to my expectations, he was every inch the country gentleman, a charming and solicitous host.
  • Fully formed now, the man before me today looks every inch the confident star.

give someone an inch and he (or she) will take a mile

proverb Once concessions have been made to someone they will demand a great deal: she stared back at him, refusing to give him an inch
More example sentences
  • Never lend Mike any money, he is something of a kind that you give him an inch and he will take a mile.
  • You give her an inch, she'll take a mile. Next thing you know, she's expecting you to clean up after yourself, pick out your own clothes for the day, and even flush the toilet.
  • And he's proven in the past that, if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.

inch by inch

Gradually: inch by inch he crept along the wall
More example sentences
  • Despite everything that weighs us down, we continue to creep forward inch by inch.
  • The tide rose noticeably inch by inch, creeping up the two seaward tires alarmingly, my tires spun ever-deeper holes in the wet sand.
  • You measure progress inch by inch, not by leaps and bounds.

within an inch of

Very close to: her mouth was within an inch of his chin
More example sentences
  • The first designer flats and homes appeared near to City's home some years ago, and soon enough, miracles aside, they will march all over the turf, no doubt packed in to within an inch of what is allowed.
  • I hadn't realised how close he was and consequently find myself within an inch of his mouth if I tilt my head upwards.
  • Even if they weren't, their performance last year, when they came within an inch of beating Caltra in the Connacht final, suggested that they were contenders.

(to) within an inch of one's life

Almost to the point of death: he was beaten within an inch of his life
More example sentences
  • Just for that, I'm going to email Fitz and tell him to beat you within an inch of your life with a wet noodle the next time he sees you..
  • And I'm not going to spare you, I'm going to pummel you within an inch of your life.
  • Taxis aren't much better with drivers that leave you within an inch of your life.

Definition of inch in:

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Word of the day impudicity
Pronunciation: ˌimpyəˈdisitē
lack of modesty

There are 2 definitions of inch in English:


Line breaks: inch
Pronunciation: /ɪn(t)ʃ


[in place names] chiefly Scottish
A small island or a small area of high land: Inchkeith


Middle English: from Scottish Gaelic innis.

Definition of inch in: