One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A series of small ropes fastened across a sailing ship's shrouds like the rungs of a ladder, used for climbing the rigging.
- ‘Aloft, there were the conventional ratlines on both sides of each mast to gain access to the rigging.’
- ‘The divers kitted up in harnesses and ascended the wet ratlines.’
- ‘In the fresh wind the vibration of the shrouds as fifty men ran up the ratlines could be distinctly heard.’
- ‘The product of a seafaring family, Seal is at home among the rigging, the ratlines, the shrouds and spars of his leading lady.’
- ‘Pamela watched the men climbing the ratlines, standing on the yards, or in the footropes.’
Late Middle English: of unknown origin.
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