noun, often attributive
lad·der | \ˈla-dər \

Definition of ladder 

1 : a structure for climbing up or down that consists essentially of two long sidepieces joined at intervals by crosspieces on which one may step

2 : something that resembles or suggests a ladder in form or use especially : run sense 11a

3 : a series of usually ascending steps or stages : scale climbing up the corporate ladder

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Other Words from ladder

ladderlike \ˈla-dər-ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of ladder in a Sentence

He was moving up the corporate ladder. She worked her way up from the lowest rung on the economic ladder. She got a ladder in her stocking.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The floating stage had a malfunction and got stuck at the end of the show so Beyoncé had to use an emergency ladder in order to leave. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Beyoncé's On The Run II Tour Stage Malfunctioned and Left Her Stranded," 2 July 2018 Since January, Hutchins had been assigned to ladder 30 in Roxborough. Kelly Brennan,, "Firefighter who died during training exercise is praised at funeral," 11 July 2018 But as Detroit points out, with growing disenchantment, there are moral costs to the rampant code switching that enables Cassius’ ascent up the corporate ladder. Justin Chang,, "Review: Boots Riley's 'Sorry to Bother You' is an arrestingly surreal satire on class rage and cultural identity," 5 July 2018 An American flag hangs from firetruck ladders before the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and three American citizens, released from detention in North Korea, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on May 10. San Francisco Chronicle, "Bay Area political events: Medea Benjamin, Scott Wiener," 7 June 2018 Rifield started at the magazine as an assistant and worked her way up the ladder, becoming its College and Career Editor. Vogue, "At Vogue for More Than 30 Years, Phyllis Rifield Was Tiny and Mighty," 5 Apr. 2018 In this musical comedy, a finance bro falls off the corporate ladder and picks up his high school guitar. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "12 Plays and Musicals to Go to in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 12 July 2018 Quick-thinking crews brought over a ladder, as shown on videos posted on Twitter by fans in attendance. Dave Quinn,, "Summertime Smiles! Beyoncé, JAY-Z and Blue Ivy Spend Family Time Between Tour Stops," 3 July 2018 Teepees and tents, lofts and ladders, playhouses and pirate ships. Marni Jameson,, "Designing a dreamy guest room for kids," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ladder.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ladder

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ladder

Middle English, from Old English hlǣder; akin to Old High German leitara ladder, Old English hlinian to lean — more at lean

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Phrases Related to ladder

rope ladder

Statistics for ladder

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ladder

The first known use of ladder was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for ladder



English Language Learners Definition of ladder

: a device used for climbing that has two long pieces of wood, metal, or rope with a series of steps or rungs between them

: a series of steps or stages by which someone moves up to a higher or better position

: a long hole in a stocking


lad·der | \ˈla-dər \

Kids Definition of ladder

: a device used for climbing usually consisting of two long pieces of wood, rope, or metal joined at short distances by horizontal pieces on which a person may step

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Comments on ladder

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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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