View synonyms for ladder


[ lad-er ]


  1. a structure of wood, metal, or rope, commonly consisting of two sidepieces between which a series of bars or rungs are set at suitable distances, forming a means of climbing up or down.
  2. something resembling this.
  3. a means of rising, as to eminence:

    the ladder of success.

  4. a graded series of stages or levels in status; a hierarchical order of position or rank:

    high on the political ladder.

  5. Chiefly British. a run in a stocking.

verb (used with object)

  1. to climb or mount by means of a ladder:

    to ladder a wall.

  2. to furnish with a ladder:

    to ladder a water tower.

  3. Chiefly British. to cause a run in (a stocking).

verb (used without object)

  1. Chiefly British. to get a run, as in a stocking.
  2. to gain in popularity or importance:

    He laddered to the top of his profession.


/ ˈlædə /


  1. a portable framework of wood, metal, rope, etc, in the form of two long parallel members connected by several parallel rungs or steps fixed to them at right angles, for climbing up or down
  2. any hierarchy conceived of as having a series of ascending stages, levels, etc

    the social ladder

    1. anything resembling a ladder
    2. ( as modifier )

      ladder stitch

  3. Also calledrun a line of connected stitches that have come undone in knitted material, esp stockings


  1. to cause a line of interconnected stitches in (stockings, etc) to undo, as by snagging, or (of a stocking) to come undone in this way

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Other Words From

  • lad·der·less adjective
  • lad·der·like lad·der·y adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of ladder1

First recorded before 1000; Middle English ladder(e), Old English hlǣd(d)er; cognate with German Leiter, Dutch leer (also ladder, from Frisian); akin to Gothic hleithra “tent, hut”; originally, “something that slopes or leans”; lean 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of ladder1

Old English hlǣdder; related to Old High German leitara

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Idioms and Phrases

see bottom of the ladder .

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Example Sentences

His “renormalization group,” which he first described in 1971, justified QED’s tortured calculations and supplied a ladder to climb the scales of universal systems.

This approach means that when fires do occur, there’s often far more fuel to burn, and it acts as a ladder, allowing the flames to climb into the crowns and take down otherwise resistant mature trees.

We have heard from others who feel they have to not appear “angry” or “aggressive” in order to move up the corporate ladder.

From Fortune

I worked on Capitol Hill and kept working my way up the ladder.

From Ozy

The fall in spending is especially pronounced at the bottom of the ladder.

From Ozy

Then when we arrive at his flat in Shepherd's Bush following the escape, perhaps there ought to be remnants of the ladder.

Some of the rescuers took elevators to the top floor and continued up to the roof via a straight ladder.

Historically, education was one way the middle and working classes, and even the poor, ascended the class ladder.

The escalatory ladder is far more terrifying than it was on the eve of the millennium.

Then, a sharp-eyed woman pointed out a ladder leaning against a tree on the side of the pond.

Some of the alarm returned, however, when the creature attempted to climb up by his own ladder.

It was no sooner accomplished, than Ripperda was on the top of the ladder, and in a few seconds by his side.

No, he was a hard-headed Scotchman, full of ability and work, and as a railway manager stood at the top of the ladder.

He said they would be unable to raise the heavy ladder to the tower window; and that was a fact.

After he had caught her, they were carried up a bamboo ladder by their friends, and sprinkled with water out of a cocoanut shell.


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[ak-suh-lot-l ]

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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