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2 definitions found
 for By inches
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Inch \Inch\, n. [OE. inche, unche, AS. ynce, L. uncia the
     twelfth part, inch, ounce. See Ounce a weight.]
     [1913 Webster]
     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 ('),
        composed of twelve seconds (''), as in the duodecimal
        system of arithmetic.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Note: The symbol ' is the same symbol as the light accent, or
           the "minutes" of an arc. The "seconds" symbol should
           actually have the two strokes closer than in repeated
           "minutes", but in this dictionary '' will be
           interpreted as "seconds".
           [PJC]
  
                 12 seconds ('') make 1 inch or prime. 12 inches
                 or primes (') make 1 foot.         --B.
                                                    Greenleaf.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     Note: 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.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     2. A small distance or degree, whether of time or space;
        hence, a critical moment; also used metaphorically of
        minor concessins in bargaining; as, he won't give an inch;
        give him an inch and he'll take a mile.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              Beldame, I think we watched you at an inch. --Shak.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     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.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  by inches
      adv 1: by a short distance; "they moved it by inches" [syn: by
             inches, little by little, by small degrees]

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