Words related to ell


Proto-Indo-European root meaning "elbow, forearm." It forms all or part of: elbow; ell (n.1) unit of measure; uilleann; ulna.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit anih "part of the leg above the knee;" Greek ōlenē "elbow;" Latin ulna, Armenian uln "shoulder;" Lithuanian alkūnė "elbow;" Old English eln "forearm."

cubit (n.)

ancient unit of measure (usually from 18 to 22 inches) based on the forearm from elbow to fingertip, early 14c., from Latin cubitum, cubitus "the elbow, the forearm," generally regarded as a derivative of PIE *keu(b)- "to bend," but de Vaan finds this dubious based on the sense of the proposed cognates and the sound changes involved. Also compare cubicle.

It seems much safer to assume that cubitus 'elbow' is a specific instance of the ppp. cubitus of the verb cubare 'to lie down'. People lie down on their elbow if they sleep on their side, and the Romans even reclined when dining. It matters little whether the original meaning was 'forearm' or 'the elbow joint'. One may even suggest that the verb cubitare 'to lie down' ... is not (only) a frequentative to cubare, but (also) arose as a denominative 'to rest on the elbow' to cubitus. [de Vaan]

Such a measure, known by a word meaning "forearm" or the like, was known to many peoples (compare Greek pekhys, Hebrew ammah, English ell).

The word also was used in English in the "forearm, part of the arm from the elbow downward" sense (early 15c.); hence cubital "as long as a cubit" (mid-15c.), also "pertaining to the forearm" (1610s).

inch (n.1)
"linear measure, one-twelfth of a foot," late Old English ynce, Middle English unche (current spelling c. 1300), from Latin uncia "a twelfth part," from unus "one" (from PIE root *oi-no- "one, unique"). An early Anglo-Saxon borrowing from Latin; not found in other Germanic languages. Transferred and figurative sense of "a very small amount, small quantity" is attested from mid-14c. As the unit of measure of rainfall from 1845. Sometimes misdivided in Middle English as a neynche. Every inch "in every respect" is from early 15c. For phrase give him an inch ... see ell.
miss (n.1)

late 12c., "loss, lack; " c. 1200, "regret occasioned by loss or absence," from Old English miss "absence, loss," from source of missan "to miss" (see miss (v.)). Meaning "an act or fact of missing; a being without" is from late 15c.; meaning "a failure to hit or attain" is 1550s.

Phrase a miss is as good as a mile (1761) was originally an inch, in a miss, is as good as an ell (1610s; see ell). To give (something) a miss "to abstain from, avoid" is attested by 1919, perhaps from earlier use of the term in billiards, "to avoid hitting the object ball" (1807).

There are few of the niceties of the game that require more care than that of "giving a miss," and particularly when the player wishes to mask the ball. I recollect a game I played with Mr. Burke, of Cheltenham. He went off, and doubled, as was his custom, the red ball nearly over the baulk corner pocket. Not feeling disposed, against so skilful an antagonist, to run the risk of playing for a canon off his ball, I gave a miss, thinking I had masked the ball. His eye, keen and penetrating, discovered at a glance that I had just left him room to pass. He played at the red ball and holed his own ball off it by a fine cut, and scored forty points from the break. [Edward Russell Mardon, "Billiards," London, 1849]