bring/come/get into line,
    1. to become or cause to become straight, as in a row: The members of the marching band got into line.
    2. to conform or cause to conform or agree: They were persuaded to come into line with the party's policy.
    cross the line, to go beyond accepted standards of behavior: His outburst crossed the line between heated argument and offensive vilification.Sometimes cross a boundary.
    down the line,
    1. in all ways; thoroughly; fully: It's a fine house right down the line—well-built, roomy, attractive.
    2. in the future.
    draw the line, to impose a restriction; limit: They might exaggerate but would draw the line at outright lying.
    go up in one's lines, Theater. to forget one's part during a performance.Also British, go up on one's lines.
    hold the line, to maintain the status quo, especially in order to forestall unfavorable developments: We're trying to hold the line on prices.
    in line,
    1. in alignment; straight.
    2. in conformity or agreement.
    3. in control (of one's conduct): to keep one's temper in line.
    4. prepared; ready.
    5. waiting one behind the other in a queue: There were eight people in line at the teller's window.
    in line with, in agreement or conformity with: The action taken was in line with her decision.
    in the line of duty, in the execution of the duties belonging to some occupation, especially with regard to the responsibility for life and death: a policeman wounded in the line of duty.Also in line of duty.
    lay it on the line, Informal.
    1. to give money; pay.
    2. to give the required information; speak directly or frankly: I'm going to stop being polite and lay it on the line.
    off line,
    1. occurring or functioning away from an assembly line, work process, etc.
    2. not in operation; not functioning.
    on a line, Baseball. (of a batted or thrown ball) through the air in an approximately straight line from the point of impact or delivery: hit on a line between third and short; thrown in on a line from the center fielder.
    on line,
    1. on or part of an assembly line: Production will be improved when the new welding equipment is on line.
    2. in or into operation: The manufacturing facilities will be on line before November.
    3. Computers.actively linked to a computer: The printer is not yet on line.
    4. Chiefly New York City.line1(def 73e).
    on the line, Informal.
    1. being risked or put in jeopardy; in a vulnerable position: Our prestige and honor are on the line.
    2. immediately; readily: paid cash on the line.
    out of line,
    1. not in a straight line.
    2. in disagreement with what is accepted or practiced.
    3. Informal.impertinent; presumptuous: That last remark was out of line.
    read between the lines, to understand the unexpressed but implied meaning of something said or written: Her letter sounded cheerful enough, but I read a certain sadness between the lines.
    toe the line/mark,
    1. to conform strictly to a rule, command, etc.
    2. to shoulder responsibilities; do one's duty: He tried hard to toe the line on the new job.

Origin of line

before 1000; Middle English li(g)ne cord, rope, stroke, series, guiding rule, partly < Old French ligneLatin līnea, noun use of feminine of līneus flaxen (orig. applied to string), equivalent to līn(um) flax (see line2) + -eus -eous, partly continuing Old English līne string, row, series < Latin, as above
Related formslin·a·ble, line·a·ble, adjectiveline·less, adjectiveline·like, adjective



verb (used with object), lined, lin·ing.

to cover the inner side or surface of: to line the coat with blue silk.
to serve to cover: Velvet draperies lined the walls of the room.
to furnish or fill: to line shelves with provisions.
to reinforce the back of a book with glued fabric, paper, vellum, etc.


a thickness of glue, as between two veneers in a sheet of plywood.

Origin of line

1350–1400; Middle English lynen, derivative of line linen, flax, Old English līn < Latin līnum flax Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for line

Contemporary Examples of line

Historical Examples of line

  • How restful this quiet and reserve after the colour and line tumult of the Higbee apartment.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Garmer tried to steer me off this line of stocks the other night.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • All else is but the setting, and the eye sweeps with indifference the line of unpeopled rocks.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • We did not get on it till we had travelled along the line about fifteen miles.

  • His voice was thin, but it kept that line of hands high above their heads.

British Dictionary definitions for line




a narrow continuous mark, as one made by a pencil, pen, or brush across a surface
such a mark cut into or raised from a surface
a thin indented mark or wrinkle
a straight or curved continuous trace having no breadth that is produced by a moving point
  1. any straight one-dimensional geometrical element whose identity is determined by two points. A line segment lies between any two points on a line
  2. a set of points (x, y) that satisfies the equation y = mx + c, where m is the gradient and c is the intercept with the y -axis
a border or boundarythe county line
  1. a white or coloured band indicating a boundary or division on a field, track, etc
  2. a mark or imaginary mark at which a race begins or ends
American football
  1. See line of scrimmage
  2. the players arranged in a row on either side of the line of scrimmage at the start of each play
a specified point of change or limitthe dividing line between sanity and madness
  1. the edge or contour of a shape, as in sculpture or architecture, or a mark on a painting, drawing, etc, defining or suggesting this
  2. the sum or type of such contours or marks, characteristic of a style or designthe line of a draughtsman; the line of a building
anything long, flexible, and thin, such as a wire or stringa washing line; a fishing line
a telephone connectiona direct line to New York
  1. a conducting wire, cable, or circuit for making connections between pieces of electrical apparatus, such as a cable for electric-power transmission, telecommunications, etc
  2. (as modifier)the line voltage
a system of travel or transportation, esp over agreed routesa shipping line
a company operating such a system
a route between two points on a railway
mainly British
  1. a railway track, including the roadbed, sleepers, etc
  2. one of the rails of such a track
NZ a roadway usually in a rural area
a course or direction of movement or advancethe line of flight of a bullet
a course or method of action, behaviour, etctake a new line with him
a policy or prescribed course of action or way of thinking (often in the phrases bring or come into line)
a field of study, interest, occupation, trade, or professionthis book is in your line
alignment; true (esp in the phrases in line, out of line)
one kind of product or articlea nice line in hats
NZ a collection of bales of wool all of the one type
a row of persons or thingsa line of cakes on the conveyor belt
a chronological or ancestral series, esp of peoplea line of prime ministers
a row of words printed or written across a page or column
a unit of verse consisting of the number of feet appropriate to the metre being used and written or printed with the words in a single row
a short letter; notejust a line to say thank you
a piece of useful information or hint about somethinggive me a line on his work
one of a number of narrow horizontal bands forming a television picture
physics a narrow band in an electromagnetic spectrum, resulting from a transition in an atom, ion, or molecule of a gas or plasma
  1. any of the five horizontal marks that make up the staveCompare space (def. 10)
  2. the musical part or melody notated on one such set
  3. a discernible shape formed by sequences of notes or musical soundsa meandering melodic line
  4. (in polyphonic music) a set of staves that are held together with a bracket or brace
a unit of magnetic flux equal to 1 maxwell
a defensive or fortified position, esp one that marks the most forward position in war or a national boundarythe front line
line ahead or line abreast a formation adopted by a naval unit for manoeuvring
a formation adopted by a body or a number of military units when drawn up abreast
the combatant forces of certain armies and navies, excluding supporting arms
fencing one of four divisions of the target on a fencer's body, considered as areas to which specific attacks are made
the scent left by a fox
  1. the equator (esp in the phrase crossing the line)
  2. any circle or arc on the terrestrial or celestial sphere
the amount of insurance written by an underwriter for a particular risk
US and Canadian a line of people, vehicles, etc, waiting for somethingAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): queue
slang a portion of a powdered drug for snorting
slang something said for effect, esp to solicit for money, sex, etche gave me his usual line
above the line
  1. accountingdenoting entries above a horizontal line on a profit and loss account, separating those that establish the profit or loss from those that show how the profit is distributed
  2. denoting revenue transactions rather than capital transactions in a nation's accounts
  3. marketingexpenditure on media advertising through an agency, rather than internally arranged advertising, such as direct mail, free samples, etc
  4. bridgedenoting bonus points, marked above the horizontal line on the score card
below the line
  1. accountingdenoting entries below a horizontal line on a profit and loss account, separating those that establish the profit or loss from those that show how the profit is distributed
  2. denoting capital transactions rather than revenue transactions in a nation's accounts
  3. marketingdenoting expenditure on advertising by other means than the traditional media, such as the provision of free gifts, special displays, direct mailshots, etc
  4. bridgedenoting points scored towards game and rubber, marked below the horizontal line on the score card
all along the line
  1. at every stage in a series
  2. in every detail
do a line Irish and Australian informal to associate (with a person of the opposite sex) regularly; go out (with)he is doing a line with her
draw the line to reasonably object (to) or set a limit (on)her father draws the line at her coming in after midnight
get a line on informal to obtain information about
hold the line
  1. to keep a telephone line open
  2. footballto prevent the opponents from taking the ball forward
  3. (of soldiers) to keep formation, as when under fire
in line for in the running for; a candidate forhe's in line for a directorship
in line with conforming to
in the line of duty as a necessary and usually undesired part of the performance of one's responsibilities
lay on the line or put on the line
  1. to pay money
  2. to speak frankly and directly
  3. to risk (one's career, reputation, etc) on something
shoot a line informal to try to create a false image, as by boasting or exaggerating
step out of line to fail to conform to expected standards, attitudes, etc
toe the line to conform to expected standards, attitudes, etc


(tr) to mark with a line or lines
(tr) to draw or represent with a line or lines
(tr) to be or put as a border totulips lined the lawns
to place in or form a row, series, or alignment
See also lines, line-up
Derived Formslinable or lineable, adjectivelined, adjectivelinelike, adjectiveliny or liney, adjective

Word Origin for line

C13: partly from Old French ligne, ultimately from Latin līnea, n use of līneus flaxen, from līnum flax; partly from Old English līn, ultimately also from Latin līnum flax



verb (tr)

to attach an inside covering to (a garment, curtain, etc), as for protection, to hide the seaming, or so that it should hang well
to cover or fit the inside ofto line the walls with books
to fill plentifullya purse lined with money
to reinforce the back of (a book) with fabric, paper, etc

Word Origin for line

C14: ultimately from Latin līnum flax, since linings were often made of linen
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 line

a Middle English merger of Old English line "cable, rope; series, row, row of letters; rule, direction," and Old French ligne "guideline, cord, string; lineage, descent;" both from Latin linea "linen thread, string, line," from phrase linea restis "linen cord," from fem. of lineus (adj.) "of linen," from linum "linen" (see linen).

Oldest sense is "rope, cord, string;" extended late 14c. to "a thread-like mark" (from sense "cord used by builders for making things level," mid-14c.), also "track, course, direction." Sense of "things or people arranged in a straight line" is from 1550s. That of "cord bearing hooks used in fishing" is from c.1300. Meaning "one's occupation, branch of business" is from 1630s, probably from misunderstood KJV translation of 2 Cor. x:16, "And not to boast in another mans line of things made ready to our hand," where line translates Greek kanon, literally "measuring rod." Meaning "class of goods in stock" is from 1834. Meaning "telegraph wire" is from 1847 (later "telephone wire").

Meaning "policy or set of policies of a political faction" is 1892, American English, from notion of a procession of followers; this is the sense in party line. In British army, the Line (1802) is the regular, numbered troops, as distinguished from guards and auxiliaries. In the Navy (1704, e.g. ship of the line) it refers to the battle line. Lines "words of an actor's part" is from 1882. Lines of communication were originally transverse trenches in siegeworks.


"to cover the inner side of," late 14c., from Old English lin "linen cloth" (see linen). Linen was frequently used in the Middle Ages as a second layer of material on the inner side of a garment. Related: Lined; lining.


late 14c., "to tie with a cord," from line (n.). Meaning "to mark or mark off with lines" is from mid-15c. Sense of "to arrange in a line" is from 1640s; that of "to join a line" is by 1773. To line up "form a line" is attested by 1889, in U.S. football.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for line




The path traced by a moving point.
A thin continuous mark, as that made by a pen, pencil, or brush applied to a surface.
A crease in the skin, especially on the face; a wrinkle.
In anatomy, a long narrow mark, strip, or streak distinguished from adjacent tissue by color, texture, or elevation.
A real or imaginary mark positioned in relation to fixed points of reference.
A border, boundary, or demarcation.
A contour or an outline.
A mark used to define a shape or represent a contour.
Any of the marks that make up the formal design of a picture.
A cable, rope, string, cord, or wire.
A general method, manner, or course of procedure.
A manner or course of procedure determined by a specified factor.
An official or prescribed policy.
Ancestry or lineage.
A series of persons, especially from one family, who succeed each other.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for line



A geometric figure formed by a point moving in a fixed direction and in the reverse direction. The intersection of two planes is a line.♦ The part of a line that lies between two points on the line is called a line segment.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for line


A set of points that have one dimension — length — but no width or height. (See coordinates.)

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.

Idioms and Phrases with line


In addition to the idioms beginning with line

  • line of fire, in the
  • line one's pockets
  • line up

also see:

  • all along (the line)
  • along the lines of
  • blow it (one's lines)
  • bottom line
  • chow down (line)
  • down the line
  • draw a line
  • draw the line at
  • drop a line
  • end of the line
  • fall in line
  • feed someone a line
  • firing line
  • get a line on
  • go on (line)
  • hard line
  • hold the line
  • hook, line, and sinker
  • hot line
  • in line
  • lay on the line
  • least resistance, line of
  • on line
  • out of line
  • party line
  • read between the lines
  • sign on the dotted line
  • somewhere along the line
  • step out of line
  • toe the line
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.