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[lad-er] /ˈlæd ər/
a structure of wood, metal, or rope, commonly consisting of two sidepieces between which a series of bars or rungs are set at suitable distances, forming a means of climbing up or down.
something resembling this.
a means of rising, as to eminence:
the ladder of success.
a graded series of stages or levels in status; a hierarchical order of position or rank:
high on the political ladder.
Nautical, companionway (def 1).
Chiefly British. a run in a stocking.
verb (used with object)
to climb or mount by means of a ladder:
to ladder a wall.
to furnish with a ladder:
to ladder a water tower.
Chiefly British. to cause a run in (a stocking).
verb (used without object)
Chiefly British. to get a run, as in a stocking.
to gain in popularity or importance:
He laddered to the top of his profession.
Origin of ladder
before 1000; Middle English laddre, Old English hlǣder; cognate with German Leiter, Dutch leer (also ladder < Fris); akin to Gothic hleithra tent; orig., something that slopes. See lean1
Related forms
ladderless, adjective
ladderlike, laddery, adjective
Can be confused
ladder, latter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ladder
  • Raise the ladder so the top is about three feet above the edge of the roof.
  • The higher up the ladder you climb, the more important writing becomes.
  • During this part of the study, they were presented with a drawing of a ladder with ten rungs on it.
  • Converting an unused ladder into a drying rack lets you get more mileage from something you might otherwise discard.
  • But they would rather take the ladder away and throw a stone instead of offering a helping hand.
  • To strengthen a wall, and perhaps a corner as well, add ladder wire every other course and under the top course.
  • But there's a price to pay for moving up the administrative ladder.
  • The next generation is making its way up the ladder.
  • How far has the philosophy of biology fallen that every step back up the logic ladder is met accolades and hailed as original.
  • And homemade versions are several notches higher on the gourmet ladder.
British Dictionary definitions for ladder


a portable framework of wood, metal, rope, etc, in the form of two long parallel members connected by several parallel rungs or steps fixed to them at right angles, for climbing up or down
any hierarchy conceived of as having a series of ascending stages, levels, etc: the social ladder
  1. anything resembling a ladder
  2. (as modifier): ladder stitch
(mainly Brit) Also called run. a line of connected stitches that have come undone in knitted material, esp stockings
(mainly Brit) to cause a line of interconnected stitches in (stockings, etc) to undo, as by snagging, or (of a stocking) to come undone in this way
Word Origin
Old English hlǣdder; related to Old High German leitara
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 ladder

Old English hlæder "ladder, steps," from Proto-Germanic *khlaidri (cf. Old Frisian hledere, Middle Dutch ledere, Old High German leitara, German Leiter), from PIE root *klei- "to lean" (cf. Greek klimax "ladder;" see lean (v.)). In late Old English, rungs were læddrestæfæ and the side pieces were ledder steles. The belief that walking under one brings bad luck is attested from 1787, but its origin likely is more pragmatic than symbolic. Ladder-back (adj.) as a type of chair is from 1898.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ladder in the Bible

occurs only once, in the account of Jacob's vision (Gen. 28:12).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with ladder


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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