American English

Definition of inch noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1(abbreviation in.) a unit for measuring length, equal to 2.54 centimeters. There are 12 inches in a foot 1.14 inches of rain fell last night. She's a few inches taller than me. a fat envelope about half an inch thick Since I started jogging I've lost three and a half inches around my waist.
  2. 2a small amount or distance He escaped death by an inch. The car missed us by inches. He was just inches away from scoring.
  3. Idioms
    1. 1the whole of something The doctor examined every inch of his body. (figurative) If they try to fire me, I'll fight them every inch of the way.
    2. 2completely In his first game, the young player already looked every inch a winner.
    give somebody an inch (and they'll take a mile) (saying)
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    used to say that if you allow some people a small amount of freedom or power they will see you as weak and try to take a lot more
    inch by inch
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    very slowly and with great care or difficulty She crawled forward inch by inch.
    not budge/give/move an inch
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    to refuse to change your position, decision, etc. even a little We tried to negotiate a lower price but they wouldn't budge an inch.
    not trust somebody an inch
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    to not trust someone at all He says he just wants to help you but I wouldn't trust him an inch if I were you.
    within an inch of something/of doing something
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    very close to something/doing something She was within an inch of being killed. They beat him (to) within an inch of his life (= very severely).
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: inch