from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A traditional unit of distance equal to the width of a clenched fist with the thumb extended (approx. 6½ inches or 16½ centimetres).
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. about seven inches; the breadth of a fist with the thumb stuck out (used especially in archery to give the correct distance of the string from the bow)
fist + mele, variant of meal ("measure"), from Old English mæl. (Wiktionary)
This is the ancient fistmele, an archer's measure, also used in measuring lumber.