Why do we say "A miss is as good as a mile"?

Well-Known Expressions

A miss is as good as a mile

Meaning:

If you miss the target it doesn't matter by how much, you still missed

Background:

For example:
"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.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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