[ rach-it ]
/ ˈrætʃ ɪt /


a toothed bar with which a pawl engages.
(not in technical use) a pawl or the like used with a ratchet or ratchet wheel.
a mechanism consisting of such a bar or wheel with the pawl.
a steady progression up or down: the upward ratchet of oil prices.

verb (used with or without object)

to move by degrees (often followed by up or down): to ratchet prices up; Interest rates have been ratcheting downward.

Nearby words

  1. ratbag,
  2. ratbaggery,
  3. ratbite fever,
  4. ratcatcher,
  5. ratch,
  6. ratchet effect,
  7. ratchet jack,
  8. ratchet wheel,
  9. rate,
  10. rate base

Origin of ratchet

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

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

Examples from the Web for ratcheting

British Dictionary definitions for ratcheting


/ (ˈrætʃɪt) /


a device in which a toothed rack or wheel is engaged by a pawl to permit motion in one direction only
the toothed rack or wheel forming part of such a device


to operate using a ratchet
(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

Word Origin for ratchet

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 ratcheting
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper