cu·​bit | \ ˈkyü-bət How to pronounce cubit (audio) \

Definition of cubit

: any of various ancient units of length based on the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger and usually equal to about 18 inches (46 centimeters)

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

The cubit is an ancient unit of length that may have originated in Egypt close to 5,000 years ago. Cubit can refer to various units used in the ancient world, the actual length of which varied from time to time and place to place, but which was generally equivalent to the length of the human arm from elbow to fingertip-roughly about a foot and a half. (Appropriately, the word's source is a Latin word meaning "elbow.") Starting with the Wycliffe Bible in 1382, cubit has been used as the English translation for the measurement known in Biblical Hebrew as the ammah and in Koine as the péchus.

Examples of cubit in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Newton was interested in the cubit, a unit of measurement used by the Great Pyramid’s builders. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, "Isaac Newton Thought the Great Pyramid Held the Key to the Apocalypse," 8 Dec. 2020 The long house, with its cubit coils and crystal shields, was not what protected us from the pandemic. Ruth Ozeki, New York Times, "The Spirits of Abandoned Ambitions," 10 Nov. 2020 In Newton and Taylor’s world, a sacred cubit consisted of exactly 25 ancient inches, each of which was 1.001 imperial inches. Jimmy Maher, Ars Technica, "How alternative Egyptology and scientific archaeology were born on the Giza Plateau," 15 Mar. 2020 And which of you, by being anxious, can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? Bob Odenkirk, The New Yorker, "A Biblical Rough Draft," 28 Oct. 2019 The palace that Maya built consisted of columns of gold, and occupied an area of five thousand cubits. Girish Shahane, Quartz India, "The Amazon fires have a 3,000-year-old parallel in the Indian epic Mahabharata," 30 Aug. 2019 These towers were said to be 60 cubits (90 feet) tall and covered with skins which were treated in vinegar, mud, and fire-resistant substances. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "How to Storm a Castle," 11 Apr. 2019 The English from at least medieval times have hewed to their own measurements—cubits, stones, miles, acres—some of which are still used in America. Jenny Gross, WSJ, "English Vigilantes Use Ladders, Sticky Letters to Exterminate the Metric System," 23 Oct. 2017 Cubit cut his ditch through a natural levee, formed by the pileup of sediment on the river's bank. Tristan Baurick,, "Old accident in Mississippi Delta holds lessons for saving Louisiana's coast," 25 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cubit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of cubit

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cubit

Middle English, from Latin cubitum elbow, cubit

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about cubit

Time Traveler for cubit

Time Traveler

The first known use of cubit was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about cubit

Statistics for cubit

Cite this Entry

“Cubit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cubit


cu·​bit | \ ˈkyü-bət How to pronounce cubit (audio) \

Kids Definition of cubit

: a unit of length usually equal to about 18 inches (46 centimeters)

More from Merriam-Webster on cubit Encyclopedia article about cubit

Comments on cubit

What made you want to look up cubit? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!