• Inch


    • IPA: /ɪntʃ/
    • Rhymes: -ɪntʃ

    Origin 1

    From Old English ynce, from Latin uncia ("twelfth part"). Compare ounce.

    Full definition of inch



    (plural inches)
    1. A unit of length equal to one twelfth of a foot, or exactly 2.54 centimetres.
    2. (meteorology) The amount of water which would cover a surface to the depth of an inch, used as a measurement of rainfall.
    3. (figuratively) A very short distance."Don't move an inch!"
      • ShakespeareBeldame, I think we watched you at an inch.


    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.
      • 1957, J. D. Salinger, "Zooey", in, 1961, :The window blind had been lowered — Zooey had done all his bathtub reading by the light from the three-bulb overhead fixture—but a fraction of morning light inched under the blind and onto the title page of the manuscript.
      • 2012, May 9, John Percy, Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 2 (2-3 on agg): match report, Already guarding a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Blackpool inched further ahead when Stephen Dobbie scored from an acute angle on the stroke of half-time. The game appeared to be completely beyond Birmingham’s reach three minutes into the second period when Matt Phillips reacted quickly to bundle the ball past Colin Doyle and off a post.
    2. To drive by inches, or small degrees.
      • DrydenHe gets too far into the soldier's grace
        And inches out my master.
    3. To deal out by inches; to give sparingly.

    Origin 2

    From Gaelic innis



    (plural inches)
    1. (Scotland) A small island
      • Sir Walter Scott, RosabelleThe blackening wave is edged with white;
        To inch and rock the sea-mews fly.

    Usage notes

    Found especially in the names of small Scottish islands, e.g. Inchcolm, Inchkeith.


    © Wiktionary