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[klahym] /klaɪm/
verb (used without object)
to go up or ascend, especially by using the hands and feet or feet only:
to climb up a ladder.
to rise slowly by or as if by continued effort:
The car laboriously climbed to the top of the mountain.
to ascend or rise:
The plane climbed rapidly and we were soon at 35,000 feet. Temperatures climbed into the 80s yesterday.
to slope upward:
The road climbs steeply up to the house.
to ascend by twining or by means of tendrils, adhesive tissues, etc., as a plant:
The ivy climbed to the roof.
to proceed or move by using the hands and feet, especially on an elevated place; crawl:
to climb along a branch; to climb around on the roof.
to ascend in prominence, fortune, etc.:
From lowly beginnings he climbed to the highest office in the land.
verb (used with object)
to ascend, go up, or get to the top of, especially by the use of the hands and feet or feet alone or by continuous or strenuous effort:
to climb a rope; to climb the stairs; to climb a mountain.
to go to the top of and over:
The prisoners climbed the wall and escaped.
a climbing; an ascent by climbing:
It was a long climb to the top of the hill.
a place to be climbed:
That peak is quite a climb.
Verb phrases
climb down,
  1. to descend, especially by using both hands and feet.
  2. to retreat, as from an indefensible opinion or position:
    He was forced to climb down from his untenable position.
climb the walls. wall (def 15).
Origin of climb
before 1000; Middle English climben, Old English climban; cognate with Dutch, German klimmen; akin to clamber
Related forms
climbable, adjective
half-climbing, adjective
nonclimbable, adjective
nonclimbing, adjective
reclimb, verb (used with object), reclimbed, reclimbing.
unclimbable, adjective
unclimbed, adjective
unclimbing, adjective
Can be confused
climb, clime.
1, 8. descend. 10. descent.
Synonym Study
8. Climb, ascend, mount, scale imply a moving upward. To climb is to make one's way upward, often with effort: to climb a mountain. Ascend, in its literal meaning (“to go up”), is general, but it now usually suggests a gradual or stately movement, with or without effort, often to a considerable degree of altitude: to ascend the heights; to ascend the Himalayas. Mount may be interchangeable with ascend, but also suggests climbing on top of or astride of: to mount a platform, a horse. Scale, a more literary word, implies difficult or hazardous climbing up or over something: to scale a summit. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for climb
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I would I were my brother, your honour,” said Ambrose, “then would I climb the thee.

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • Who foremost now to climb the leaguered wall, The first to triumph, or the first to fall?

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • He will never fly at your elephant, or climb a tree, or take to the water after you!

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • After two hours' climb, the features of the landscape change.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • Without waiting to plan, I began to climb down the steep side of the ravine.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
British Dictionary definitions for climb


verb (mainly intransitive)
(also transitive) often foll by up. to go up or ascend (stairs, a mountain, etc)
(often foll by along) to progress with difficulty: to climb along a ledge
to rise to a higher point or intensity: the temperature climbed
to incline or slope upwards: the road began to climb
to ascend in social position
(of plants) to grow upwards by twining, using tendrils or suckers, etc
(informal) (foll by into) to put (on) or get (into)
to be a climber or mountaineer
the act or an instance of climbing
a place or thing to be climbed, esp a route in mountaineering
adjective scansorial
Derived Forms
climbable, adjective
Word Origin
Old English climban; related to Old Norse klembra to squeeze, Old High German climban to clamber
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for climb

Old English climban "raise oneself using hands and feet; rise gradually, ascend; make an ascent of" (past tense clamb, past participle clumben, clumbe), from West Germanic *klimbanan "go up by clinging" (cf. Dutch klimmen "to climb," Old High German klimban, German klimmen). A strong verb in Old English, weak by 16c. Most other Germanic languages long ago dropped the -b. Meaning "to mount as if by climbing" is from mid-14c. Figurative sense of "rise slowly by effort" is from mid-13c. Related: Climbed; climbing.


1580s, "act of climbing," from climb (v.). Meaning "an ascent by climbing" is from 1915, originally in aviation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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