Date: 1000-1100
Language: Latin
Origin: uncia 'one twelfth'


1 noun
inch1 S2 W3 [countable]
1 written abbreviation inTM a unit for measuring length, equal to 2.54 centimetres. There are 12 inches in a foot.:
The curtains were an inch too short.
Rainfall here is under 15 inches a year.
2 a very small distance:
Derek leaned closer, his face only inches from hers.
The bus missed us by inches.
On several occasions they came within inches of death.

every inch

a) completely or in every way:
With her designer clothes and elegant hair, she looks every inch the celebrity.
b) the whole of an area or distance
every inch of
Every inch of space in the tiny shop was crammed with goods.
Italy deserved to win, though Greece made them fight every inch of the way.

give somebody an inch and they'll take a yard/mile

used to say that if you allow someone a little freedom or power, they will try to take more

inch by inch

moving very gradually and slowly:
Inch by inch, he lowered himself from the roof.

not give/budge an inch

to refuse to change your decision or opinion, even though people are trying to persuade you to do this:
Neither side is prepared to give an inch in the negotiations.

beat/thrash etc somebody to within an inch of their life

to beat someone very hard and thoroughly:
Another word out of you and I'll beat you to within an inch of your life.