Inch (?), n. [Gael. inis.]

An island; -- often used in the names of small islands off the coast of Scotland, as in Inchcolm, Inchkeith, etc.

[Scot.]

Inch, n. [OE. inche, unche, AS. ynce, L. uncia the twelfth part, inch, ounce. See Ounce a weight.]

1.

A measure of length, the twelfth part of a foot, commonly subdivided into halves, quarters, eights, sixteenths, etc., as among mechanics. It was also formerly divided into twelve parts, called lines, and originally into three parts, called barleycorns, its length supposed to have been determined from three grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise. It is also sometimes called a prime (�xb7;), composed of twelve seconds (�xb7;�xb7;), as in the duodecimal system of arithmetic.

<-- �xb7; is the same symbol as the light accent, or the "minutes" of an arc. The "seconds" synbol should actually have the two strokes closer than in repeated "minutes". Here, �xb7;�xb7; will be interpreted as "seconds" -->

12 seconds (�xb7;�xb7;) make 1 inch or prime. 12 inches or primes (�xb7;) make 1 foot. B. Greenleaf.

⇒ The meter, the accepted scientific standard of length, equals 39.37 inches; the inch is equal to 2.54 centimeters. See Metric system, and Meter.

2.

A small distance or degree, whether or time space; hence, a critical moment.

Beldame, I think we watched you at an inch. Shak.

By inches, by slow degrees, gradually. -- Inch of candle. See under Candle. -- Inches of pressure, usually, the pressure indicated by so many inches of a mercury column, as on a steam gauge. -- Inch of water. See under Water. -- Miner's inch, Hydraulic Mining, a unit for the measurement of water. See Inch of water, under Water.

Inch (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Inched (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Inching.]

1.

To drive by inches, or small degrees.

[R.]

He gets too far into the soldier's grace And inches out my master. Dryden.

2.

To deal out by inches; to give sparingly.

[R.]

Inch, v. i.

To advance or retire by inches or small degrees; to move slowly.

With slow paces measures back the field, And inches to the walls. Dryden.

Inch, a.

Measurement an inch in any dimension, whether length, breadth, or thickness; -- used in composition; as, a two-inch cable; a four-inch plank.

Inch stuff, boards, etc., sawed one inch thick.