• synonyms


See more synonyms for ratchet on Thesaurus.com
  1. a toothed bar with which a pawl engages.
  2. ratchet wheel.
  3. a mechanism consisting of such a bar or wheel with the pawl.
  4. ratchet wheel.
  5. a steady progression up or down: the upward ratchet of oil prices.
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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to move by degrees (often followed by up or down): to ratchet prices up; Interest rates have been ratcheting downward.
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Origin of ratchet1

1650–60; alteration of French rochet; Middle French rocquet a blunt lance-head < Germanic


adjective Slang.
  1. flashy, unrefined, etc.; low-class: ratchet girls wearing too much makeup.
  2. exhibiting or affirming low-class traits in a way that is considered authentic: Better to stay a ratchet bitch than become a bougie poser like her.
  3. extremely good; awesome.
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Also ratched [racht] /rætʃt/.

Origin of ratchet2

First recorded in 1990–95; from a dance and genre of hip-hop music originating in Shreveport, Louisiana
Related formsratch·et·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ratchet

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British Dictionary definitions for ratchet


  1. a device in which a toothed rack or wheel is engaged by a pawl to permit motion in one direction only
  2. the toothed rack or wheel forming part of such a device
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  1. to operate using a ratchet
  2. (usually foll by up or down) to increase or decrease, esp irreversiblyelectricity prices will ratchet up this year; Hitchcock ratchets up the tension once again
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Word Origin

C17: from French rochet, from Old French rocquet blunt head of a lance, of Germanic origin: compare Old High German rocko distaff
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 ratchet


1650s, rochet, from French rochet "bobbin, spindle," from Italian rocchetto "spool, ratchet," diminutive of rocca "distaff," possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German rocko "distaff," Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukka-, from PIE root *ruk- "fabric, spun yarn." Cf. rocket (n.2). Current spelling in English dates from 1721, influenced by synonymous ratch, which perhaps is borrowed from German Rätsche "ratchet."

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1852, from ratchet (n.). Transferred sense attested by 1977. Related: Ratcheted; ratcheting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper