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ratchet1

[rach-it]
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noun
  1. a toothed bar with which a pawl engages.
  2. (not in technical use) a pawl or the like used with a ratchet or ratchet wheel.
  3. a mechanism consisting of such a bar or wheel with the pawl.
  4. ratchet wheel.
  5. a steady progression up or down: the upward ratchet of oil prices.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to move by degrees (often followed by up or down): to ratchet prices up; Interest rates have been ratcheting downward.

Origin of ratchet1

1650–60; alteration of French rochet; Middle French rocquet a blunt lance-head < Germanic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ratcheting

ratchet

noun
  1. a device in which a toothed rack or wheel is engaged by a pawl to permit motion in one direction only
  2. the toothed rack or wheel forming part of such a device
verb
  1. to operate using a ratchet
  2. (usually foll by up or down) to increase or decrease, esp irreversiblyelectricity prices will ratchet up this year; Hitchcock ratchets up the tension once again

Word Origin

C17: from French rochet, from Old French rocquet blunt head of a lance, of Germanic origin: compare Old High German rocko distaff
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

Word Origin and History for ratcheting

ratchet

n.

1650s, rochet, from French rochet "bobbin, spindle," from Italian rocchetto "spool, ratchet," diminutive of rocca "distaff," possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German rocko "distaff," Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukka-, from PIE root *ruk- "fabric, spun yarn." Cf. rocket (n.2). Current spelling in English dates from 1721, influenced by synonymous ratch, which perhaps is borrowed from German Rätsche "ratchet."

ratchet

v.

1852, from ratchet (n.). Transferred sense attested by 1977. Related: Ratcheted; ratcheting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper