9

I found the idiom "not move/budge/change an inch" used when talking about something that won't change as someone's stubborn opinion.

Example from Cambridge Dictionary:

She's definite that she wants to do it, and she'll not give an inch, however hard you try to persuade her.

I want to use it for this dialogue:

  • So, you haven't changed your mind, have you?
  • Not even an inch.

I'm not sure of the phrase. But I want it to mean as the idiom above. I didn't use the idiom instead as I don't find it makes a good fit in the sentence with its current construction.

Thus, is the phrase (not even an inch) correct and deliver the meaning I mentioned above? If not, how to achieve the meaning by using the idiom, if possible?

  • 4
    That looks good to me, I would understand it as a reader. – WendyG Jan 30 at 12:04
8

This conversation would work:

So, you haven't changed your mind?
--No, I haven't moved | budged | retreated an inch.

You need some verb relating to physical space in order to use an inch idiomatically. That verb could appear in the question or in the answer.

There's no way I can get you to come a little closer to our way of thinking?
-- Not an inch.

For example, this would not be idiomatic:

I hadn't seen her for thirty years. What was amazing, she hadn't changed an inch.

  • Thank you very much for the answer. So, would "No, I haven't moved an inch.", in the first conversation, mean "No, I haven't changed my mind."? – Tasneem ZH Jan 30 at 15:36
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    It would mean "Not in the slightest way" or "Not even a tiny bit". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 30 at 15:58
12

Although the expression not even an inch is perfectly idiomatic, it doesn't fit well into your proposed dialogue. The origin is the idea of soldiers holding the line against an enemy - of not yielding to an attack.

The problem is that the two metaphors (changing your mind and moving an inch) don't fit easily together in this construction. And it's not clear whether the response Not even an inch is from the questioner or the person to whom the question is addressed.

Alternatives, depending on your intention, might be:

So, you haven't changed your mind, have you?
Not at all!
In no way!
Certainly not!

Otherwise you need to rephrase things:

So you are not ready to change you mind, to give a little ground?
Not even an inch!

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. About the last sentence, "give little ground" means to retreat, but would it work if the first person is trying to convince the second person to get married? – Tasneem ZH Jan 30 at 15:30
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    @TasneemZh Getting married is a difficult thing to compromise a little bit on, which makes "give an inch" and related phrases unusual. – Kamil Drakari Jan 30 at 16:57
8

As a middle-aged native English speaker (US), the intent of your dialog was clear to me and I understood the reference to not giving an inch.

So, you haven't changed your mind, have you?
Not even an inch.

You could even shorten the response to

Not an inch.

I would consider this somewhat informal in tone. Other ways of having the same conversation (if you were willing to drop the "not give an inch" reference) might be

So, you haven't changed your mind, have you?
Nope.
No.
Not a bit.

  • 1
    While I understand what the other answers were getting at, I'm glad you chimed in. Like you, I did not find the use of this metaphor particularly jarring, even without a verb associated with distance or physical space. Another alternative that might work is: Not by an inch. Still, I wonder if "Not a bit" is perhaps the "safest" way to say it. – J.R. Jan 30 at 20:08
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    @J.R. Agreed... I would probably say "Not a bit" or probably even "Nope", depending on who I'm talking to. Since OP wants to signal a reference to "not give an inch", I presented that as an alternative... :) – JeffC Jan 30 at 20:27
3

I'd agree with the other answers - the metaphor is more having to do with distance, but it works. "Not a bit" might be safer but it's a bit more bland and less firm than "not an inch".

I'd recommend: "Not one bit." That is as strong as "not an inch" but doesn't have the connotation of distance.

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