An inch is a unit of measurement equivalent to 2.53 centimeters. There are 12 inches in a foot and 36 inches in a yard. (A yard is similar to a meter in length.)

  • Gloria baked some bread in a nine-inch pan.
  • The viewing area on a large cell phone is about five inches by three inches.
  • The young man competing in the high jump missed the school record by just an inch.
  • There were several inches of water in the basement following the heavy rain.

You can also use the word "inch" as a verb to describe slow movement.

  • The kids are inching towards the door, eager to get outside and play.
  • Traffic inched through the construction zone.
  • There’s a turtle inching towards the water.
  • Hikers inched along a narrow path around the mountain.

The word "inch" is frequently heard in expressions that describe small amounts:

  • Inch by inch, she’s making progress.
  • Don’t move an inch! There’s a bee on your head.
  • If you give an inch, they’ll take a mile. (People will take advantage of your decision to compromise.)
  • Don’t give up an inch. (Don’t compromise or allow someone to take something from you.)
  • We’re just inches away from getting the deal done. (We’re almost finished.)

measuring tape

Measuring tape is used when measuring inches.

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This page was first published on June 4, 2012. It was updated on February 24, 2016.