Jacob's ladder

  1. a ladder seen by Jacob in a dream, reaching from the earth to heaven. Gen. 28:12.
  2. Nautical.
    1. Also called jack ladder, pilot ladder.a hanging ladder having ropes or chains supporting wooden or metal rungs or steps.
    2. any ladderlike arrangement aloft other than one of rattled shrouds.


[jey-kuh bz-lad-er]
  1. any of various plants belonging to the genus Polemonium, of the phlox family, especially P. caeruleum (or P. van-bruntiae), having blue, cup-shaped flowers and paired leaflets in a ladderlike arrangement.

Origin of Jacob's-ladder

First recorded in 1725–35
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for jacob's ladder

Jacob's ladder

  1. Old Testament the ladder reaching up to heaven that Jacob saw in a dream (Genesis 28:12–17)
  2. Also called: jack ladder a ladder made of wooden or metal steps supported by ropes or chains
  3. a North American polemoniaceous plant, Polemonium caeruleum, with blue flowers and a ladder-like arrangement of leaves
  4. any of several similar or related plants
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

jacob's ladder in Culture

Jacob's ladder

A ladder that Jacob saw in a dream. After he had obtained his brother Esau's birthright and received his father's blessing, he had a vision of the angels of God ascending and descending a ladder that extended from Earth to heaven. God, who stood at the top of the ladder, promised to bless Jacob and his offspring and to bring his descendants into the Promised Land. (See Jacob and Esau.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.