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[ruhng] /rʌŋ/
one of the crosspieces, usually rounded, forming the steps of a ladder.
a rounded or shaped piece fixed horizontally, for strengthening purposes, as between the legs of a chair.
a spoke of a wheel.
a stout stick, rod, or bar, especially one of rounded section, forming a piece in something framed or constructed.
a stage in a scale, level in a hierarchy, etc.; degree:
He rose a few rungs in the company.
Origin of rung2
before 1000; Middle English; Old English hrung; cognate with Gothic hrunga rod, German Runge
Related forms
rungless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rungs
  • Our engineer friend led us to a locomotive and lifted me up the iron ladder to the cab, on rungs that seemed to be two feet apart.
  • Ladders and iron rungs will help you ascend the steepest pitches.
  • We climb a bobbing ladder of six rungs into a bamboo house.
  • Two dozen rickety metal rungs spot-welded to the inside of the pipe disappear straight down into the darkness.
  • Adventure-seekers can be found here clinging to iron rungs hammered into granite.
  • By comparison, turnover among fund raisers is high, especially among those occupying the lower rungs of the development ladder.
  • Nor does economics consider the voices of those who work on the lower rungs of the economic ladder in blue-collar jobs.
  • rungs will disappear, replaced with lattices that allow movement in many directions.
  • They have been shoved a couple of rungs down the food chain.
  • It would consist of two spiraling strands held together by cross-links, as the sides of a ladder are held together by rungs.
British Dictionary definitions for rungs


one of the bars or rods that form the steps of a ladder
a crosspiece between the legs of a chair, etc
(nautical) a spoke on a ship's wheel or a handle projecting from the periphery
(dialect) a cudgel or staff
Derived Forms
rungless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English hrung; related to Old High German runga, Gothic hrugga


the past participle of ring2
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for rungs



Old English hrung "rod, bar," from Proto-Germanic *khrungo (cf. Middle Low German runge, Old High German runga "stake, stud, stave," German Runge "stake, stud, stave," Middle Dutch ronghe, Dutch rong "rung," Gothic hrugga "staff"), of unknown origin with no connections outside Germanic. Sense in English narrowed to "round or stave of a ladder" (first attested late 13c.), but usage of cognate words remains more general in other Germanic languages.

This [rungs] has generally been considered as a mere corruption of rounds; and people of education use only this latter word. [John Pickering, "A Vocabulary or Collection of Words and Phrases which have been Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America," Boston, 1816]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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