Origin of climb

before 1000; Middle English climben, Old English climban; cognate with Dutch, German klimmen; akin to clamber
Related formsclimb·a·ble, adjectivehalf-climb·ing, adjectivenon·climb·a·ble, adjectivenon·climb·ing, adjectivere·climb, verb (used with object), re·climbed, re·climb·ing.un·climb·a·ble, adjectiveun·climbed, adjectiveun·climb·ing, adjective
Can be confusedclimb clime

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.

Antonyms for climb

1, 8. descend. 10. descent.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for climb

scale, top, rise, ascend, clamber, mount, soar, escalate, escalade

Examples from the Web for climb

Contemporary Examples of climb

Historical Examples of climb

  • 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 intr)

(also tr often foll by up) to go up or ascend (stairs, a mountain, etc)
(often foll by along) to progress with difficultyto climb along a ledge
to rise to a higher point or intensitythe temperature climbed
to incline or slope upwardsthe 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
Related formsRelated adjective: scansorial
Derived Formsclimbable, adjective

Word Origin for climb

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

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