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[rohp] /roʊp/
a strong, thick line or cord, commonly one composed of twisted or braided strands of hemp, flax, or the like, or of wire or other material.
a lasso.
  1. the cords used to enclose a prize ring or other space.
  2. Informal. the operations of a business or the details of any undertaking:
    The new employee didn't take long to learn the ropes.
a hangman's noose, halter, or cord.
the sentence or punishment of death by hanging.
a quantity of material or a number of things twisted or strung together in the form of a cord:
a rope of tobacco.
a stringy, viscid, or glutinous formation in a liquid:
ropes of slime.
verb (used with object), roped, roping.
to tie, bind, or fasten with a rope.
to enclose, partition, or mark off with a rope or ropes (often followed by off).
to catch with a lasso; lasso.
Nautical. to reinforce (a sail or awning) with a boltrope.
verb (used without object), roped, roping.
to be drawn out into a filament of thread; become ropy.
Verb phrases
rope in, Informal. to lure or entice, especially by employing deception:
The swindler had roped in a number of gullible persons.
at the end of one's rope, at the end of one's endurance or means; at the limit:
With all her savings gone and bills piling up, she was at the end of her rope.
give someone enough rope, to allow a person complete freedom to continue his or her misdeeds in hope that retribution will follow.
on the ropes,
  1. Boxing. in a defenseless position, as leaning against the ropes to keep from falling.
  2. Informal. in a desperate or hopeless position; close to defeat or failure:
    By repeatedly undercutting his prices, his competitors soon had him on the ropes.
Origin of rope
before 900; (noun) Middle English rop(e), rap(e), Old English rāp; cognate with Dutch reep, German Reif; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related forms
roper, noun
ropelike, adjective
unroped, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rope
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He bore still around him the rope that was to save the rest.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • And he brought the mare to a halt by jerking the rope around her neck.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • She'll buy her some spurs and try to rope and cut out and help brand.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • I can feel the cold of the water yet, and your rope settling over my shoulders.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • Over his shoulder he carried a bag, tied round and round with a rope.

British Dictionary definitions for rope


  1. a fairly thick cord made of twisted and intertwined hemp or other fibres or of wire or other strong material
  2. (as modifier): a rope bridge, a rope ladder
a row of objects fastened or united to form a line: a rope of pearls, a rope of onions
a quantity of material twisted or wound in the form of a cord
anything in the form of a filament or strand, esp something viscous or glutinous: a rope of slime
the rope
  1. a rope, noose, or halter used for hanging
  2. death by hanging, strangling, etc
give someone enough rope to hang himself, to allow someone to accomplish his own downfall by his own foolish acts
know the ropes
  1. to have a thorough understanding of a particular sphere of activity
  2. to be experienced in the ways of the world
on the ropes
  1. (boxing) driven against the ropes enclosing the ring by an opponent's attack
  2. in a defenceless or hopeless position
(transitive) to bind or fasten with or as if with a rope
(transitive) usually foll by off. to enclose or divide by means of a rope
(intransitive) to become extended in a long filament or thread
(mountaineering) when intr, foll by up. to tie (climbers) together with a rope
See also rope in
Word Origin
Old English rāp; related to Old Saxon rēp, Old High German reif
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 rope

Old English rap "rope, cord, cable," from Proto-Germanic *raipaz (cf. Old Norse reip, West Frisian reap, Middle Dutch, Dutch reep "rope," Old Frisian silrap "shoe-thong," Gothic skauda-raip "shoe-lace," Old High German, German reif "ring, hoop"). Technically, only cordage above one inch in circumference and below 10 (bigger-around than that is a cable). Nautical use varies. Finnish raippa "hoop, rope, twig" is a Germanic loan-word.

To know the ropes (1840, Dana) originally is a seaman's term. Phrase on the ropes "defeated" is attested from 1924, a figurative extension from the fight ring, where ropes figure from 1829. To be at the end of (one's) rope "out of resources and options" is first attested 1680s. Formerly also in many slang and extended uses related to punishment by hanging, e.g. John Roper's window "a noose," rope-ripe "deserving to be hanged," both 16c. To give someone (enough) rope (to hang himself) is from 1650s.


c.1300, "bind with a rope," from rope (n.). Meaning "mark off with rope" is from 1738; to rope (someone or something) in is from 1848. Related: Roped; roping.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for rope



  1. A cigar; el ropo, hemp (1934+)
  2. A hard-hit line drive; clothesline, frozen rope (1960s+ Baseball)


  1. (also rope in) To ensnare someone with amity and concern as a means of swindling; rope in (1848+)
  2. : Surhoff roped an RBI double to the gap in left-center

Related Terms

goat fuck, go piss up a rope, know the ropes, suck

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with rope


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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