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)

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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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 23 Oct. 2017 Cubit cut his ditch through a natural levee, formed by the pileup of sediment on the river's bank. Tristan Baurick,, 25 Aug. 2017 See More

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.

First Known Use of cubit

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cubit

Middle English, from Latin cubitum elbow, cubit

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

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Cite this Entry

“Cubit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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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)

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