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ratchet

[rach-it] /ˈrætʃ ɪt/
noun
1.
a toothed bar with which a pawl engages.
2.
(not in technical use) a pawl or the like used with a ratchet or ratchet wheel.
3.
a mechanism consisting of such a bar or wheel with the pawl.
5.
a steady progression up or down:
the upward ratchet of oil prices.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
6.
to move by degrees (often followed by up or down):
to ratchet prices up; Interest rates have been ratcheting downward.
Origin
1650-1660
1650-60; alteration of French rochet; Middle French rocquet a blunt lance-head < Germanic
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for ratchet
  • We used a ratchet strap to secure the boxes in the back of the truck.
  • In an area that is already seething with anger at official corruption, the arrests may serve only to ratchet up the tensions.
  • The flexible, ratchet-lock strap allows for quick adjustment.
  • They also tend to have less volatility, meaning they don't tend to ratchet up or down in price nearly so much.
  • The academics, device makers, and pharmacy companies tend to ratchet up the level of care for all patients regardless of value.
  • It's going to ratchet up the stakes until the country finds itself on the brink.
  • They only make adjustments that ratchet the results upwards.
  • As in so many other arenas of conflict, it's easier to ratchet up than down.
  • Even if you ratchet up the water vapor, there is nothing more it can do.
  • Moreover, there's plenty of time, since evolution uses a ratchet effect of developing a form and then morphing it for other uses.
British Dictionary definitions for ratchet

ratchet

/ˈrætʃɪt/
noun
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
verb
3.
to operate using a ratchet
4.
usually foll by up or down. to increase or decrease, esp irreversibly: electricity prices will ratchet up this year, Hitchcock ratchets up the tension once again
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
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Word Origin and History for ratchet
n.

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."

v.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for ratchet

ratchet

verb

To change by increments in one direction: Gold had ratcheted down to 385

[1977+; fr the ratchet action of a winch or of a wrench, where an increasing pressure, torque, pull, etc, is registered by the clicking of a pawl on a gear wheel]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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