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or ratlin

[rat-lin] /ˈræt lɪn/
noun, Nautical.
any of the small ropes or lines that traverse the shrouds horizontally and serve as steps for going aloft.
Also, ratline stuff. three-stranded, right-laid, tarred hemp stuff of from 6 to 24 threads, used for ratlines, lashings, etc.
Origin of ratline
1475-85; earlier ratling, radelyng < ? Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ratline
Historical Examples
  • Sakr-el-Bahr drank slowly, his eyes never leaving the vessel, whose every ratline was clearly defined by now in the pellucid air.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • A musket-ball carried away a ratline above his head, just as he reached forward.

  • In walking along her gun-deck, he accidentally ran against a ratline, by which one of her starboard guns was discharged.

  • A sailor came slipping down the ratline one night, as though something had happened, and the sailors cried, "What's the matter?"

    The Wedding Ring T. De Witt Talmage
  • Collins, bring your party into this room; and do not forget to bring along that length of ratline that I told you to have ready.

    A Middy of the Slave Squadron Harry Collingwood
  • It was above the second ratline in the fore-shrouds, and fully six feet over the rail.

    Farthest North Fridtjof Nansen
British Dictionary definitions for ratline


(nautical) any of a series of light lines tied across the shrouds of a sailing vessel for climbing aloft
Word Origin
C15: of unknown origin
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 ratline

"thin rope," especially as used on sailing ships, late 15c., originally ratling, of unknown origin; spelling ratline attested from 1773, by influence of line (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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