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Inch vs. Cm: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 3, 2024
An inch is a unit of length in the Imperial and U.S. customary systems, equal to 1/12th of a foot, whereas a centimeter is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to 1/100th of a meter.
Inch vs. Cm

Key Differences

Inch and Cm are both units of measurement used to quantify length. An inch is a traditional unit of length in the Imperial and U.S. customary measurement systems, widely used in the United States. A centimeter, on the other hand, is part of the metric system, which is used globally and is the standard in scientific and most international applications.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 03, 2024
Measurement Origins: The inch has historical roots in England and was traditionally based on the width of a human thumb. Today, it is precisely defined as 2.54 centimeters. The centimeter, a part of the metric system, was developed in France during the 18th century and is based on the meter, the metric system's base unit of length.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 03, 2024
Usage in Different Systems: The inch is commonly used in the United States for everyday measurements, such as screen sizes and clothing. The centimeter, being part of the metric system, is widely used in scientific contexts and in most countries outside the U.S. for almost all measurements.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 03, 2024
Precision and Conversion: When precision is needed, the centimeter is often preferred due to its smaller unit size and its decimal-based relationship with the meter. To convert inches to centimeters, multiply the number of inches by 2.54, and for converting centimeters to inches, divide the number of centimeters by 2.54.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 03, 2024
Cultural and Practical Implications: The choice between using inches or centimeters often depends on cultural and geographical factors. The inch, being part of the older Imperial system, reflects a traditional approach, while the centimeter reflects a modern, globally standardized system.
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Shumaila Saeed
Feb 03, 2024
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Comparison Chart

System of Measurement

Imperial and U.S. Customary
Metric
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Length

1/12th of a foot
1/100th of a meter
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Origin

Based on the width of a human thumb
Part of the metric system, based on meter
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Usage

Predominantly in the U.S.
Worldwide, in scientific and general use
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Feb 03, 2024

Conversion Factor

1 inch = 2.54 cm
1 cm = 0.393701 inch
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Feb 03, 2024
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Preferred Context

Everyday measurements in the U.S.
Scientific measurements and global use
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Feb 03, 2024

Inch and Cm Definitions

Inch

To move slowly and steadily.
The snail inched its way across the garden.
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Jan 18, 2024

Cm

A unit of length in the metric system.
The width of the book is 15 cm.
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Jan 18, 2024

Inch

A unit of length in the Imperial system.
The ruler showed a length of 12 inches.
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Jan 18, 2024

Cm

Used in measuring area in square centimeters.
The area of the rectangle is 100 square cm.
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Jan 18, 2024
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Inch

A small amount or margin.
He won the race by an inch.
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Jan 18, 2024

Cm

Applied in scientific contexts for precision.
The lab equipment measured to the nearest cm.
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Jan 18, 2024

Inch

To progress gradually.
We inched closer to completing the project.
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Jan 18, 2024

Cm

Standard unit in clothing measurements outside the U.S.
Her dress size was 90 cm at the waist.
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Jan 18, 2024

Inch

A unit of length in the US Customary and British Imperial systems, equal to 1/12 of a foot (2.54 centimeters). See Table at measurement.
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Jan 17, 2024

Cm

Used in medical measurements.
The patient's tumor was 5 cm in diameter.
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Jan 18, 2024

Inch

A fall, as of rain or snow, sufficient to cover a surface to the depth of one inch.
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Jan 17, 2024

Cm

The abbreviation for centimeter.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A unit of atmospheric pressure that is equal to the pressure exerted by a one-inch column of mercury at the earth's surface at a temperature of 0°C.
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Jan 17, 2024

Cm

The chemical symbol for the element curium.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A very small degree or amount
Won't budge an inch.
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Jan 17, 2024

Cm

A metric unit of length equal to one hundredth of a meter
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A small island.
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Cm

A radioactive transuranic metallic element; produced by bombarding plutonium with helium nuclei
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To move or cause to move slowly or by small degrees
Inching along through stalled traffic.
Inched the chair forward.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

An English unit of length equal to 1/12 of a foot or 2.54 cm, roughly the width of a thumb.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

(figuratively) Any very short distance.
Don't move an inch!
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

Any of various similar units of length in other traditional systems of measurement.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

(meteorology) A depth of one inch on the ground, used as a measurement of rainfall.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A depth of one inch in a glass, used as a rough measurement of alcoholic beverages.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A small island#Noun; an islet#Noun.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A meadow#Noun, pasture#Noun, field#Noun, or haugh#Noun.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To advance very slowly, or by a small amount (in a particular direction).
Fearful of falling, he inched along the window ledge.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To drive by inches, or small degrees.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To deal out by inches; to give sparingly.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To humiliate; to provoke; to speak in a cocky and cheeky manner
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

Cocky and cheeky
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Inch

An island; - often used in the names of small islands off the coast of Scotland, as in Inchcolm, Inchkeith, etc.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

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.
12 seconds (´´) make 1 inch or prime. 12 inches or primes (´) make 1 foot.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

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.
Beldame, I think we watched you at an inch.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To drive by inches, or small degrees.
He gets too far into the soldier's graceAnd inches out my master.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To deal out by inches; to give sparingly.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

To advance or retire by inches or small degrees; to move slowly; as, to inch forward.
With slow paces measures back the field,And inches to the walls.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

Measuring an inch in any dimension, whether length, breadth, or thickness; - used in composition; as, a two-inch cable; a four-inch plank.
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A unit of length equal to one twelfth of a foot
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A unit of measurement for advertising space
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Inch

Advance slowly, as if by inches;
He edged towards the car
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Jan 17, 2024

Inch

A measure used to indicate rainfall.
We received an inch of rain last night.
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Jan 18, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can I convert inches to centimeters easily?

Yes, multiply the number of inches by 2.54 to get centimeters.
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Feb 03, 2024

How many inches are in a centimeter?

There are approximately 0.393701 inches in a centimeter.
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Feb 03, 2024

Is an inch bigger than a centimeter?

Yes, an inch is larger than a centimeter.
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Are inches used in scientific research?

Inches are less commonly used in science; centimeters are preferred.
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Why are centimeters preferred in medicine?

Centimeters offer more precision, important in medical measurements.
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Are inches and centimeters interchangeable?

They measure the same dimension (length) but are different units.
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Feb 03, 2024

How did the inch originate?

The inch historically was based on the width of a human thumb.
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Feb 03, 2024

Do all countries use centimeters?

Most countries use centimeters, except for the U.S., which primarily uses inches.
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Feb 03, 2024

Is inch a standard unit in the metric system?

No, the inch is part of the Imperial system, not the metric system.
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Feb 03, 2024

Is the centimeter part of the International System of Units?

Yes, the centimeter, though not a base unit, is part of this system.
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Feb 03, 2024

Is it easy to visualize an inch?

Yes, an inch can be roughly estimated as the width of an adult's thumb.
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Feb 03, 2024

Are centimeters used in fashion design?

Yes, especially outside the U.S., centimeters are standard in fashion.
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Feb 03, 2024

What is a common use for inches?

Inches are commonly used for measuring screen sizes and clothing in the U.S.
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Feb 03, 2024

Are inches used in space measurements?

Space measurements typically use the metric system, so centimeters are preferred.
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Feb 03, 2024

Is the inch used in international trade?

The inch is less common in international trade; centimeters are more standard.
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Feb 03, 2024

Are inches more accurate than centimeters?

No, centimeters allow for more precise measurements due to their smaller size.
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Feb 03, 2024

How are inches used in construction?

In the U.S., inches are used for dimensions in building and carpentry.
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Feb 03, 2024

Can you convert centimeters to meters?

Yes, divide the number of centimeters by 100 to get meters.
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Feb 03, 2024

Do smartphones use inches for screen size?

Yes, in the U.S., smartphone screens are often measured in inches.
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Feb 03, 2024

How is the inch defined today?

The inch is officially defined as exactly 2.54 centimeters.
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Feb 03, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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