The inch is a unit of measure of about 2.54 cm. The origin of the inch is disputed. Historically, in different parts of the world (even different cities within the same country) and at different points in time, the inch has referred to similar but different standard lengths.
The English word inch comes from Latin uncia meaning "one twelfth part" (in this case, one twelfth of a foot); the word ounce (one twelfth of a troy pound) has the same origin. The old English ynche was defined (by King David I of Scotland in about 1150) as the width of an average man's thumb at the base of the nail, even including the requirement to calculate the average of a small, a medium, and a large man's measures. To account for the much larger length later called an inch, there are also attempts to link it to the distance between the tip of the thumb and the first joint of the thumb, but this may be speculation.