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inch1 noun (inches)

  1. in the imperial system: a unit of length equal to 2.54cm or one twelfth of a foot.
  2. meteorol, especially formerly the amount of rain or snow that will cover a surface to the depth of one inch, now usually measured in millimetres.
  3. meteorol, especially formerly a unit of pressure equal to the amount of atmospheric pressure required to balance the weight of a column of mercury one inch high, now usually measured in millibars.
  4. (also inches) a small amount or distance • It wouldn't budge an inch • The ball only missed me by inches.
  5. (inches) stature.
  6. in compounds • inch-tape. verb (inched, inching) tr & intr (especially inch along, forward, out, etc) to move or be moved slowly, carefully and by small degrees • inched forward to see if any cars were coming. See also inch something out below. every inch completely; in every way • He's every inch a gentleman. inch by inch or by inches gradually; by small degrees. within an inch of something very close to or almost as far as it. within an inch of one's life almost to the point of death; very thoroughly • beat him within an inch of his life.

ETYMOLOGY: Anglo-Saxon ynce, from Latin uncia a twelfth part; see also ounce1.

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