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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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British Dictionary definitions for ratcheting

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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Contemporary definitions for ratcheting
adjective

moved in segments with a clicking sound

Examples

He bought a ratcheting pruner for the trees.

noun

the increasing or decreasing of an action in segments; incremental change

Examples

The rivalry has been ratcheting up for years.

Word Origin

by 1941

Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014 Dictionary.com, LLC
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Word Origin and History for ratcheting

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 ratcheting

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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