inch1 / inch/ • n. 1. a unit of linear measure equal to one twelfth of a foot (2.54 cm): the toy train is four inches long | eighteen inches of thread. (Symbol: ″) ∎ a very small amount or distance: I had no intention of budging an inch.2. a unit used to express other quantities, in particular: ∎ (as a unit of rainfall) a quantity that would cover a horizontal surface to a depth of one inch. ∎ (also inch of mercury) (as a unit of atmospheric pressure) an amount that would support a column of mercury one-inch high in a barometer (equal to 33.86 millibars, 29.5 inches being equal to one bar). • v. [intr.] move slowly and carefully in a specified direction: the 2,000 mourners inched along narrow country lanes | fig. the stock market inched ahead today. ∎ [tr.] cause (something) to move in this manner: he inched the car forward.PHRASES: by inches1. only just: the shot missed her by inches.2. very slowly and gradually; bit by bit: you can't let him die by inches like this.every inch1. the whole surface, distance, or area: between them they know every inch of the country.2. entirely; very much so: he's every inch the gentleman.inch by inch gradually; bit by bit: inch by inch he crept along the wall.within an inch of very close to: her mouth was within an inch of his chin. (to) within an inch of one's life almost to the point of death: he was beaten within an inch of his life.inch2 • n. [in place names] chiefly Scot. a small island or a small area of high land: Inchkeith.