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ancient unit of measure based on the forearm from elbow to fingertip, usually from 18 to 22 inches, early 14c., from Latin cubitum "the elbow," from PIE *keu(b)- "to bend." Such a measure, known by a word meaning "forearm" or the like, was known to many peoples (e.g. Greek pekhys, Hebrew ammah, English ell).
Heb. 'ammah; i.e., "mother of the arm," the fore-arm, is a word derived from the Latin cubitus, the lower arm. It is difficult to determine the exact length of this measure, from the uncertainty whether it included the entire length from the elbow to the tip of the longest finger, or only from the elbow to the root of the hand at the wrist. The probability is that the longer was the original cubit. The common computation as to the length of the cubit makes it 20.24 inches for the ordinary cubit, and 21.888 inches for the sacred one. This is the same as the Egyptian measurements. A rod or staff the measure of a cubit is called in Judg. 3:16 _gomed_, which literally means a "cut," something "cut off." The LXX. and Vulgate render it "span."
unit of linear measure used by many ancient and medieval peoples. It may have originated in Egypt about 3000 BC; it thereafter became ubiquitous in the ancient world. The cubit, generally taken as equal to 18 inches (457 mm), was based on the length of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger and was considered the equivalent of 6 palms or 2 spans. In some ancient cultures it was as long as 21 inches (531 mm).