at the end of one's rope, at the end of one's endurance or means; at the limit: With all her savings gone and bills piling up, she was at the end of her rope.
    give someone enough rope, to allow a person complete freedom to continue his or her misdeeds in hope that retribution will follow.
    on the ropes,
    1. a defenseless position, as leaning against the ropes to keep from falling.
    2. 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

before 900; (noun) Middle English rop(e), rap(e), Old English rāp; cognate with Dutch reep, German Reif; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related formsrop·er, nounrope·like, adjectiveun·roped, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rope in

rope in

verb (tr, adverb)

British to persuade to take part in some activity
US and Canadian to trick or entice into some activity



  1. a fairly thick cord made of twisted and intertwined hemp or other fibres or of wire or other strong material
  2. (as modifier)a rope bridge; a rope ladder
a row of objects fastened or united to form a linea rope of pearls; a rope of onions
a quantity of material twisted or wound in the form of a cord
anything in the form of a filament or strand, esp something viscous or glutinousa rope of slime
the rope
  1. a rope, noose, or halter used for hanging
  2. death by hanging, strangling, etc
give someone enough rope to hang himself to allow someone to accomplish his own downfall by his own foolish acts
know the ropes
  1. to have a thorough understanding of a particular sphere of activity
  2. to be experienced in the ways of the world
on the ropes
  1. boxingdriven against the ropes enclosing the ring by an opponent's attack
  2. in a defenceless or hopeless position


(tr) to bind or fasten with or as if with a rope
(tr usually foll by off) to enclose or divide by means of a rope
(intr) to become extended in a long filament or thread
(when intr , foll by up) mountaineering to tie (climbers) together with a rope
See also rope in

Word Origin for rope

Old English rāp; related to Old Saxon rēp, Old High German reif
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 rope in



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with rope in

rope in

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

also see:

  • end of one's rope
  • enough rope
  • (show someone) know the ropes
  • on the ropes
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.