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Difference between By inches and Inch by inch

by inches

1. very gradually or slowly:

  • The ship was sinking by inches; she might remain above water an hour or more.

2. miss by a very small margin:

  • We scrambled to get out of the way, the car missing us by inches.

inch by inch

1. by small degrees or stages:

  • When life falls apart, we are forced to rebuild it inch by inch.

2. scrutinize smth. closely; examine smth. very carefully:

  • I have examined that cloth inch by inch; there is not a flaw in it.