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or ratlin

[rat-lin] /ˈræt lɪn/
noun, Nautical.
any of the small ropes or lines that traverse the shrouds horizontally and serve as steps for going aloft.
Also, ratline stuff. three-stranded, right-laid, tarred hemp stuff of from 6 to 24 threads, used for ratlines, lashings, etc.
Origin of ratline
First recorded in 1475-85; earlier ratling, radelyng < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ratline
Historical Examples
  • It was above the second ratline in the fore-shrouds, and fully six feet over the rail.

    Farthest North Fridtjof Nansen
  • In walking along her gun-deck, he accidentally ran against a ratline, by which one of her starboard guns was discharged.

  • Collins, bring your party into this room; and do not forget to bring along that length of ratline that I told you to have ready.

    A Middy of the Slave Squadron Harry Collingwood
  • Sakr-el-Bahr drank slowly, his eyes never leaving the vessel, whose every ratline was clearly defined by now in the pellucid air.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • A musket-ball carried away a ratline above his head, just as he reached forward.

  • A sailor came slipping down the ratline one night, as though something had happened, and the sailors cried, "What's the matter?"

    The Wedding Ring T. De Witt Talmage
British Dictionary definitions for ratline


(nautical) any of a series of light lines tied across the shrouds of a sailing vessel for climbing aloft
Word Origin
C15: of unknown origin
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 ratline

"thin rope," especially as used on sailing ships, late 15c., originally ratling, of unknown origin; spelling ratline attested from 1773, by influence of line (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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