- 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 < ?
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for ratline
It was above the second ratline in the fore-shrouds, and fully six feet over the rail.Farthest North
In walking along her gun-deck, he accidentally ran against a ratline, by which one of her starboard guns was discharged.The Naval History of the United States
Willis J. Abbot.
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
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
A musket-ball carried away a ratline above his head, just as he reached forward.Yankee Ships and Yankee Sailors: Tales of 1812
- nautical any of a series of light lines tied across the shrouds of a sailing vessel for climbing aloft
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
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