Definition of ratchet in English:



  • 1A device consisting of a bar or wheel with a set of angled teeth in which a pawl, cog, or tooth engages, allowing motion in one direction only.

    as modifier ‘a ratchet screwdriver’
    • ‘Surface marker buoy reels tend to work on some form of ratchet system that only allows line out when the ratchet is released.’
    • ‘I like this position as it means that, if required, you can easily engage or disengage the ratchet with the hand that is holding the rod while playing a fish.’
    • ‘A ratchet is a mechanical device that restricts movement in one direction and allows movement in the opposite direction.’
    • ‘Unlike using a ratchet, which allows for only a series of preset pitches, to hold the blades in position, the cam can grip anywhere along the guide are, allowing for very fine adjustments.’
    • ‘Instantaneously, she grabbed the ratchet and started to work, stripping the cover to the engine exhaust.’
    • ‘An adjustable ratchet, which neither reel has but which the tensioners might help simulate, would of course give you the best of both worlds.’
    • ‘The hand keeps pressing against the ratchet as the hammer continues rearward.’
    • ‘The gears worked smoothly, to the minor accompaniment of the ratchet clicking and the links passing over the drive sprocket.’
    • ‘To fill the void, I've been watching Monster Garage and Junkyard Wars, both of which are like Iron Chef with power tools & ratchets.’
    • ‘To unscrew the casing is to throw open such a Pandora's Box of nuts and springs, axles, ratchets and governors as to confound all attempts to recapture them.’
    • ‘From the off position, the parking brake took six notches of its ratchet to be fully on.’
    • ‘Examples of IVA tools are various sizes of wrenches and sockets, hexagonal, Phillips, and torque head drivers, pliers, and ratchets.’
    • ‘The idea is that you randomly press down one tooth at a time. One of the teeth - and it changes each time - will cause the jaws to close with the crunch of a spring-loaded ratchet.’
    • ‘Evolutionary software has already designed simple circuits, as well as physical mechanisms like the ratchet and cantilever.’
    • ‘The ratchets on the extractor more perfectly engage the new cylinder hand, which was mated with it.’
    prong, point, tine, cog, sprocket
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A bar or wheel that forms part of a ratchet.
      • ‘In the same area is the lever that engages the ratchet to rotate the cylinder.’
      • ‘They calculated that the electric potential inside the pore was asymmetric, shaped like a ratchet's tooth.’
      • ‘The device was designed and built by chemists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Bologna, and it is the hydrogen bonds that act as locking teeth on a molecular ratchet, controlling the movements of the wheels.’
      • ‘The teeth of the ratchet aren't sufficiently large or strong to hold the center channel speaker if the unit gets bumped or moved.’
      • ‘The drive mechanism may comprise a ratchet and pawl.’
  • 2A situation or process that is perceived to be changing in a series of irreversible steps.

    ‘the upward ratchet of property taxes’
    • ‘The ratchet will move further in the direction of control at the expense of liberty.’
    • ‘The one historic reversal of this ratchet was Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut, which increased revenue through economic growth.’
    • ‘When this accessory protein interaction is defined so that it acts as a ratchet, backward slippage can be prevented with minimal interference with forward progression.’
    • ‘It's only in the down time that we recognize the one-way ratchet of adding to the cost of doing business.’
    • ‘Under the regime of fiat currency these ratchets are irresistible as they are powered and amplified by speculation.’
    • ‘Microsoft gains muscle from this process, so it can tighten the ratchets, and so on.’
    • ‘The international and domestic prestige that can be derived from space achievements can best be understood as a series of ratchets on a downward slope.’
    • ‘The occasional tweak of the regulatory ratchet is as much as we can get these days - precisely because people like you and me have persuaded too few voters to give these issues the overarching significance they deserve.’
    • ‘And another downward ratchet in wages would just about guarantee it will get worse.’
    • ‘Think of yourself as a ratchet: once you gain an inch of territory you refuse to give it back.’
    • ‘To see more clearly how the ratchet works, consider an even simpler modelýan economy pared down to just two participants.’
    • ‘The growth of mammoth government interventions tends to be a one-way ratchet.’
    • ‘That would have given each worker a stake of £100,000 or more, based on the equity ratchet, and a real incentive to drive forward shareholder value.’
    • ‘It means working with governments to encourage greater transparency in financial flows so that investment becomes a ratchet for wider economic development.’
    • ‘In three major towns in Antrim, the sectarian ratchet is being turned up.’


[with object]
  • 1Operate by means of a ratchet.

    ‘a ratcheted quick release system’
    ‘a smooth ratcheting action’
    • ‘Quickly repeating these jaw movements, the threadsnake ratchets the squirmy prey farther and farther down the hatch.’
    • ‘It kinks, detaches itself from actin, unkinks, and reattaches, and thereby ratchets along the actin filament in a series of power strokes.’
    • ‘The researchers aimed to use the brake to ratchet the propeller in only one direction, by executing a series of chemical reactions between blade and brake.’
    • ‘In particular, prey is transported into and through the mouth via independent ratcheting movements of the upper jaws.’
    • ‘If the water is real deep, try ratcheting your pedals by doing quarter pedal strokes.’
    • ‘Somewhere a Dumpster is ratcheted open by the claws of a black machine.’
  • 2ratchet something up/downCause something to rise (or fall) as a step in what is perceived as an irreversible process.

    ‘the Bank of Japan ratcheted up interest rates again’
    • ‘Earnings will dip as investment in 3G ratchets up.’
    • ‘But as the vice president ratchets up his attacks on John Kerry, questions are raised about Cheney himself and his role in a campaign that is coming more into focus.’
    • ‘The Fed's Open Market Committee expected to once again ratchet up interest rates by a quarter point when it meets on Tuesday.’
    • ‘Was this piece of paper reason to stop talking completely and ratchet up the rhetoric?’
    • ‘In this case, the geography of industrial organization ratchets up a sequence of scales from local to regional to national, and ultimately to global.’
    • ‘Grantham, always publicly self-deprecating, ratchets up flippancy to reckless levels when commenting on his youngest son.’
    • ‘But if the U.S. ratchets up the pressure with more protectionist moves, Beijing may retaliate with higher tariffs of its own.’
    • ‘The tension ratchets upwards a notch in each successive movement.’
    • ‘The home-improvement giant ratchets up growth - by moving past the lumberyard look’
    • ‘Obviously, the death threat ratchets up the tension, but it's not really all that palpable.’
    • ‘More important, it gives him a chance to quickly ratchet up profits by merging the back office and cutting the workforce.’
    • ‘Once we're into the second hour, Pollack ratchets up the pace a few notches and we notice a quickening of the pulse.’
    • ‘All they do is ratchet up a crisis, get more free stuff, sign papers that mean nothing to them, keep on doing the illegal war stuff, and start the cycle all over again.’
    • ‘In future, oil producers will need to continually ratchet up oil prices to make it viable for new sources of ‘more expensive’ oil to be extracted.’
    • ‘The last battle, in particular, really ratchets up the tension.’
    • ‘In short, if you're a fan of the series to date, this volume delivers more of the same, advances the overall plot, and ratchets up the tempo a notch.’
    • ‘In this sense, the murder of Browne ratchets up the deepening shadows around the state/loyalist paramilitary linkage.’
    • ‘They were thrilled to proceed with merger mania and ratchet up already-humongous profits.’
    • ‘Supplying materials for new driveways and patios has helped the firm ratchet up 13% per annum dividend growth since 1997.’
    • ‘But as rates rise sharply and home price increases ratchet down, the flow of cash from housing equity is sure to slow in the coming year.’
    • ‘The purpose of the referendum is to further ratchet down our interests,’ said Phillip.’


Mid 17th century: from French rochet, originally denoting a blunt lance head, later in the sense ‘bobbin, ratchet’; related to the base of archaic rock ‘quantity of wool on a distaff for spinning’.