Scene: Climbing a cliff.

A foot above his head, he gripped his smallest handhold yet, and then stepped up onto a gently sloping surface that contained just enough grit to give the soles of his boots several seconds of purchase.

Does this foot refer to a footing, footholds etc. or is it a man's foot?

Source; Novel, Pines, Blake Crouch

  • 2
    It is a unit of measurement about 30 cm roughly.
    – mdewey
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 15:33
  • 2
    I'm confident that if you keep looking in the dictionary you will come across more definitions. A foot is an imperial measurement of distance - roughly 30cm in metric.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 15:34
  • 2
    In the early days of electric trams in London an elderly lady was supposed to have indicated a tram rail in the road, and asked a tramways inspector if she would be "electrified" if she put her foot on it. "No, lady", he is said to have replied, "Not unless you can get the other foot on that wire up there". Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


A foot is a unit of measurement equivalent to 30.48 centimetres approximately. Although it is easy to find this meaning in dictionaries I must say in your defence that even though I have known it for many years I had to think twice what this sentence means, it is a slightly strange construction. I did wonder whether the climber was so supple he was looking for a place for his foot above where his head was.

  • 1
    In fact a foot is exactly 30.48cm, not approximately. The inch has been redefined to be 2.54cm.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 18:31
  • The British Standards Institution adopted 2.54 cm, (or 25.4 mm) in 1930, and the American Standards Association followed in 1933. Prior to these changes, the UK inch was defined as 25.399977 mm and the U.S. inch as 25.4000508 mm. Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 19:46

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