a retreat, as from an indefensible opinion or position.

Origin of climb-down

First recorded in 1885–90; noun use of verb phrase climb down



verb (used without object)

to go up or ascend, especially by using the hands and feet or feet only: to climb up a ladder.
to rise slowly by or as if by continued effort: The car laboriously climbed to the top of the mountain.
to ascend or rise: The plane climbed rapidly and we were soon at 35,000 feet. Temperatures climbed into the 80s yesterday.
to slope upward: The road climbs steeply up to the house.
to ascend by twining or by means of tendrils, adhesive tissues, etc., as a plant: The ivy climbed to the roof.
to proceed or move by using the hands and feet, especially on an elevated place; crawl: to climb along a branch; to climb around on the roof.
to ascend in prominence, fortune, etc.: From lowly beginnings he climbed to the highest office in the land.

verb (used with object)

to ascend, go up, or get to the top of, especially by the use of the hands and feet or feet alone or by continuous or strenuous effort: to climb a rope; to climb the stairs; to climb a mountain.
to go to the top of and over: The prisoners climbed the wall and escaped.


a climbing; an ascent by climbing: It was a long climb to the top of the hill.
a place to be climbed: That peak is quite a climb.

Verb Phrases

climb down,
  1. to descend, especially by using both hands and feet.
  2. to retreat, as from an indefensible opinion or position: He was forced to climb down from his untenable position.
climb the walls. wall(def 15).

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. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for climb down

disembark, alight, descend, lower

British Dictionary definitions for climb down

climb down

verb (intr, adverb)

to descend
(often foll by from) to retreat (from an opinion, position, etc)

noun climb-down

a retreat from an opinion, etc


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 down



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