If you miss the target it doesn't matter by how much, you still missed
"My shot just missed the deer - but a miss is as good as a mile and the deer got away"
"He only missed his train by a minute but a miss is as good as a mile and he missed the wedding.
The first known recording of this expression traces to William Camden's Concerning Britain (1614): An ynche in a misse is as good as an ell.
The now obsolete unit of measurement known as an ell varied in length in different cultures. In England it was a tailoring term equivalent to 45 inches. Edward I (1272 to 1307), aka “Longshanks” required that every town have an ellwand for official measurements.
Presumably, when the ell fell out of use as a unit of measurement, ell was replaced by mile - to form the modern version of this expression.
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