- the cords used to enclose a prize ring or other space.
- Informal.the operations of a business or the details of any undertaking: The new employee didn't take long to learn the ropes.
verb (used with object), roped, rop·ing.
verb (used without object), roped, rop·ing.
- Boxing.in a defenseless position, as leaning against the ropes to keep from falling.
- Informal.in a desperate or hopeless position; close to defeat or failure: By repeatedly undercutting his prices, his competitors soon had him on the ropes.
Origin of rope
verb (tr, adverb)
- a fairly thick cord made of twisted and intertwined hemp or other fibres or of wire or other strong material
- (as modifier)a rope bridge; a rope ladder
- a rope, noose, or halter used for hanging
- death by hanging, strangling, etc
- to have a thorough understanding of a particular sphere of activity
- to be experienced in the ways of the world
- boxingdriven against the ropes enclosing the ring by an opponent's attack
- in a defenceless or hopeless position
Word Origin for rope
Old English rap "rope, cord, cable," from Proto-Germanic *raipaz (cf. Old Norse reip, West Frisian reap, Middle Dutch, Dutch reep "rope," Old Frisian silrap "shoe-thong," Gothic skauda-raip "shoe-lace," Old High German, German reif "ring, hoop"). Technically, only cordage above one inch in circumference and below 10 (bigger-around than that is a cable). Nautical use varies. Finnish raippa "hoop, rope, twig" is a Germanic loan-word.
To know the ropes (1840, Dana) originally is a seaman's term. Phrase on the ropes "defeated" is attested from 1924, a figurative extension from the fight ring, where ropes figure from 1829. To be at the end of (one's) rope "out of resources and options" is first attested 1680s. Formerly also in many slang and extended uses related to punishment by hanging, e.g. John Roper's window "a noose," rope-ripe "deserving to be hanged," both 16c. To give someone (enough) rope (to hang himself) is from 1650s.
c.1300, "bind with a rope," from rope (n.). Meaning "mark off with rope" is from 1738; to rope (someone or something) in is from 1848. Related: Roped; roping.
Also, rope into. Lure or entice someone into doing something, as in We didn't want to spend the night there, but we got roped in by my lonely aunt, or The salesman tried to rope us into buying some worthless real estate. These expressions allude to catching an animal by throwing a rope around it. [Mid-1800s]
In addition to the idiom beginning with rope
- rope in
- end of one's rope
- enough rope
- (show someone) know the ropes
- on the ropes