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See also: Inch



  • IPA(key): /ɪnt͡ʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪntʃ

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English ynche, enche, from Old English ynċe, borrowed 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 ounce, uncia, onça, onza, oka, ouguiya, and awqiyyah.

Alternative forms[edit]


inch (plural inches or (UK colloquial) inch) (abbreviated in., )

  1. An English unit of length equal to 1/12 of a foot or 2.54 cm, roughly the width of a thumb.
    • 1873, Charles Tomlinson, chapter III, in Winter in the Arctic Regions and Summer in the Antarctic Regions[1], London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, →OCLC, page 122:
      The sledges of the Esquimaux are of large size, varying from six and a half to nine and even eleven feet in length, and from eighteen inches to two feet in breadth.
    • 1939, The Department of Education of International Business Machines Corporation, chapter I, in Precision Measurement in the Metal Working Industry[2], first paperback binding edition, Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, published 1978, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 1:
      The term "precision measurement" [] refers to the art of reproducing and controlling dimensions expressed in thousandths of an inch or smaller.
  2. (figuratively) Any very short distance.
    Don't move an inch!
    • 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene iv]:
      Beldame, I think we watched you at an inch.
    • 1840, Lewis Rose, chapter III, in An Humble Attempt to Put an End to the Present Divisions in the Church of Scotland, and to Promote Her Usefulness. [] [3], Glasgow: George Gallie, →OCLC, page 51:
      [B]e the consequences what they may, they shall not move an inch, nor a hair's-breadth from the ground of their groundless spiritual independence, []
  3. Any of various similar units of length in other traditional systems of measurement.
  4. (meteorology) A depth of one inch on the ground, used as a measurement of rainfall.
    • 1880, Arthur Herbert Church, Food: Some Account of Its Sources, Constituents and Uses[4], London: Chapman and Hall, page 14:
      Let us consider what one inch of rain really means. If an acre of land were covered with water to the depth of only the tenth part of an inch, that layer of water would weigh more than 10 tons: thus 1 inch of rain is ten times that amount—in fact, very nearly 101 tons.
  5. A depth of one inch in a glass, used as a rough measurement of alcoholic beverages.
Derived terms[edit]
  • Assamese: ইঞ্চি (io͂si)
  • Hindi: इंच (iñc)
  • Indonesian: inci
  • Japanese: インチ (inchi)
  • Korean: 인치 (inchi)
  • Serbo-Croatian: и̏нч
  • Swahili: inchi
  • Turkish: inç
  • Vietnamese: inh
  • Yoruba: ínǹsì


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.
    • 1957, J. D. Salinger, “Zooey”, in Franny and Zooey, published 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”, in the Telegraph[5]:
      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.
    • 1692, John Dryden, Cleomenes, the Spartan Hero, a Tragedy:
      He gets too far into the soldier's grace / And inches out my master.
  3. To deal out by inches; to give sparingly.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Scottish Gaelic innis.


inch (plural inches)

  1. (Scotland, Ireland) A small island; an islet.
  2. (Scotland, Ireland) A meadow, pasture, field, or haugh.
    • 1988, Alice Taylor, To School Through the Fields: An Irish Country Childhood, Brandon Ltd, →ISBN, page 6:
      An ivy-clad farmhouse surrounded by trees, it stood on the sunny side of a sloping hill at the foot of which the Darigle river curved its way through gold-furzed inches to disappear under a stone bridge into the woods beyond.
    • 1988, Alice Taylor, To School Through the Fields: An Irish Country Childhood, Brandon Ltd, →ISBN, page 22:
      As these calves grew older they did not need to return to the farmyard for feeding as they were able to eat sufficient grass for themselves. They were then kept in the fields, known as the inches, along by the river[,] where they grew strong[,] and during the winter cold when grass was scarce[,] hay was carried down to them.
Usage notes[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Semantic loan from Cantonese (cyun3, inch), which is an alternative form of (cyun3, cocky; to provoke; etc.).



  1. (Hong Kong, colloquial) cocky and cheeky
    • 1994 May 29, Albert Ng, soc.culture.hongkong[6] (Usenet):
      I still remember Donald Duck sit next to him after NG dog being 'Done'd to F.2 building... he is still very Inch in Year 1983-4 teaching me RS
    • 2006 June 12, killgirl, OpenRice[7]:
      The service was professional but very "inch". We were served by a Cantonese speaking local. The waiter asked if we wanted water without telling us it costs $75 for just water!!


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

  1. (Hong Kong, colloquial) to burn (to insult); to speak in a cocky and cheeky manner
    • 1994 March 4,, soc.culture.hongkong.entertainment[8] (Usenet):
      Sorry for changing the intention of the post last time; it was for nothing but the personal joy and satisfaction of "inch"-ing the person who criticized my writing while he/she can't even write. (no hard feelings, alright?!) I'd avoid that in the future. I'll try to make this a constructive discussion and be as objective as possible.


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of ynche



Unadapted borrowing from English inch.


inch m (plural inchi)

  1. inch
    Synonym: țol