What is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter?

Published: 7/16/2021 Last updated: 7/16/2021
What is the difference between an inch and a centimeter? Are these 2 units significantly different or quite similar? How does the relationship between them look? If these are issues which you are interested in, keep reading.
What is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter?
Table of contents:

What is the difference between an inch and a centimeter? Are these 2 units significantly different or quite similar? How does the relationship between them look? If these are issues which you are interested in, keep reading.

What is the difference between an inch and a centimeter? After all, both of them are units of length. So why talk about it? Of course, one thing combines an inch and a centimeter. But it doesn’t matter that there are no differences between them. They are. And they are significant.

And that's what we are going to show you in this article. We want to compare an inch and a centimeter from A to Z, not only in the context of what kind of units they are. More issues are needed to mention to understand the topic. And no, they are not the only values of these units too.

Do you want to know the difference between an inch and a centimeter? This article is for you. Keep reading and satisfy your curiosity.

A centimeter – a theory

The theory about a centimeter (and an inch too, but we will discuss them one by one) is a must. Why? Because already at the level of the theory these units are different. To be honest, very different. After reading 2 separate theoretical parts dedicated to a centimeter and an inch, you will see it.

This part will be entirely dedicated to a centimeter. As a reminder, a cm is a unit of length. This is the common area with an inch. And now… The differences.

First things first. Where did a centimeter come from? In which system of measurement does it belong? Where is this unit used?

A centimeter is a unit of the metric system. You may also know this system under a different name. The full name of this system is the International System of Units. Of course, it is mostly used in abbreviation – it is just the SI.

A centimeter – a theory

This metric system is used by people from continental Europe mostly. Why? Because the SI is an official system of measurement in these countries. Such uniformity is a great convenience for people living there. They don’t need to convert anything when they travel to another country of continental Europe or do business with entrepreneurs from this area.

What is the definition of a centimeter? And now a little surprise – there is no official definition of this unit of length. You don’t have to know any specific kind of formula.

But it doesn’t matter that there is no way to define a centimeter. This unit is frequently defined just as 1/100 of a meter.

Thanks to knowing this definition you also will learn along the way one of the values of a centimeter. You can see this value in the table down below:

Centimeter Meter
1 0.01 (or 1/100)


And that’s all about a centimeter we want to tell you. Let’s see what about an inch. What do you think – the differences will be huge or rather small?

An inch – a theory

To clearly show you the differences between a centimeter and an inch, we are going to describe an inch in the same scheme.

So the first thing – the origin of an inch, the system from which it comes and countries in which nowadays it is used the most frequently.

For the record, an inch is a unit of length. We mentioned this information before, but it is one of the most important issues, that’s why we emphasize it.

An inch is a part of 2 systems of measurement. First is the Imperial (called also British) system of measurement. Second is the United States customary system of measurement.

As you can imagine by the names of these systems, they are used in the United Kingdom and the United States. In these 2 countries, you will not see a centimeter used as a unit of length for sure.

An inch – a theory

But does it matter that you can see inches only in these 2 aforementioned countries? In contrast to a centimeter, an inch is used worldwide in some cases. It takes place when it comes to measuring screen sizes, for instance, of smartphones or TVs.

And the last thing in this part – what is the definition of an inch? Is there a legal definition or does it look similar to the case of a centimeter?

This time there is no legal definition either. An inch is mostly defined, like a centimeter, with the use of other units. In this case, they are units from the Imperial system of measurements and the United States customary system of measurement.

The 2 most commonly known ways to define an inch are with the use of yard and foot. How does the relationship between an inch and these 2 other units look? An inch is equal to 1/36 of a yard and to 1/12 foot.

These 2 results you can see also in the charts down below. Have a look at the first one:


Inch Yard
1 1/36


And at the second one:


Inch Foot
1 1/12


The theory about an inch and a centimeter are finally behind us. In a moment we will move on to the more practical aspects. But let’s sum up this part.

What is the difference between an inch and a centimeter?

  • They are used in other areas of the world.
  • They come from other systems of measurement.
  • They are defined differently, which means they have other values.

A centimeter and an inch – values

We told you a little about a centimeter and an inch values when we have given you a definition of these 2 units. In this part, we want to focus on the relationship between each other. It means, how many inches in a centimeter and how many centimeters in an inch.

A centimeter and an inch – values

First, see the equivalent of a centimeter in inches. So 1 centimeter is approximately 0.393700787 inches. Have a look at the result in a chart too:


Centimeters Inches
1 0.393700787


This value is one of the commonly used when it comes to how many inches in a centimeter. As we said, it is only an approximation. To be honest, there is no way to give you an exact result as a decimal, because it has an infinite number of digits after the comma.

So how does the exact result of the equivalent of a centimeter in inches look? There are exactly 1/2.54 inches in a centimeter. This result you can also see in a table:

Centimeters Inches
1 1/2.54


So let’s see how it looks in the reverse situation. What is the equivalent of an inch in centimeters? In 1 inch are exactly 2.54 centimeters. This result in a chart is down below:


Inches Centimeters
1 2.54


As you can see, in this case, an equivalent is an exact result. Thanks to this it is easier to understand and remember.

What is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter? Subtraction

You know how many inches in a centimeter and how many centimeters in an inch. But what is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter? Let’s compare these 2 units and get the answer.

We are going to show you the comparison of 1 inch and 1 centimeter in 2 ways. The First will be the subtraction and the second division.

So firstly subtract 1 centimeter from 1 inch to know what the difference between them is. To do a calculation like this it is needed to convert these 2 numbers into one unit. As you remember, 1 inch is 2.54 centimeters. So we will use this value instead of inches.

The calculation will look like this:

2.54 centimeters (1 inch) - 1 centimeter = 1.54 centimeters

So what is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter? The difference is equal to exactly 1.54 centimeters.

What is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter? Division

See the other way to calculate the difference. Now divide 1 inch by 1 centimeter. We will use the same equivalent of 1 inch as in the previous example.

Now the calculation looks as follows:

2.54 centimeters (1 inch) / 1 centimeter = 2.54 centimeters

So what is the difference between 1 inch and 1 centimeter now? The difference is 1 inch is exactly 2.54 times bigger than 1 centimeter.

Differences between an inch and a centimeter – summary

And now you know all the most important differences between an inch and a centimeter – both from the practical and theoretical perspectives.

In the end, we prepared a knowledge pill for you with all the information from this article. Thanks to this you can consolidate what you have learned. Have a look:

  1. A centimeter comes from the metric system (the SI). An inch comes from the Imperial system of measurement and the United States customary system of measurement.
  2. A centimeter is used in continental Europe mostly. An inch is used mainly in the United Kingdom and the United States.
  3. A centimeter is defined as 1/100 of a meter. An inch is defined as 1/36 of a yard or 1/12 of the foot.
  4. A centimeter is equal to 1/2.54 inches and approximately 0.393700787 inches. An inch is exactly 2.54 centimeters.

So let’s use this knowledge in practice now. Surprise your math teacher with all information about an inch and a centimeter or use the values of these 2 units to make conversion of them quickly.

Read also our other articles. Learn how you can use this knowledge to make a cm to inch or inch to cm conversion.