lad·​der ˈla-dər How to pronounce ladder (audio)
often attributive
: a structure for climbing up or down that consists essentially of two long sidepieces joined at intervals by crosspieces on which one may step
: something that resembles or suggests a ladder in form or use
especially : run sense 11a
: a series of usually ascending steps or stages : scale
climbing up the corporate ladder
ladderlike 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.
Recent Examples on the Web In a world where climbing the corporate ladder often follows a predictable script, Peter Jelkeby stands out as a true exception. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune, 26 Sep. 2023 The union argues that the arrangements leave many employees with steeper climbs up the wage-and-benefits ladder than some of their colleagues. Drew Barrymore reverses course on talk show Drew Barrymore. Lara Horwitz, NBC News, 17 Sep. 2023 Advertisement ‘The Other Black Girl’ — Wednesday on Hulu Nella is a Black editorial assistant at a New York publishing house who is struggling to work her way up the corporate ladder and retain her dignity along the way. Nina Metz, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Sep. 2023 Rivaldo Fairweather climbs the ladder to give Auburn the lead over Cal in the 4th quarter. Ainslie Lee |, al, 10 Sep. 2023 Assistance, Watt Road: Police and EMS arrived at a home 5:15 p.m. Aug. 27 where a man, 72, fell from a 20-foot ladder. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 10 Sep. 2023 Choose a contrasting finish that stands out against the walls, or match the ladder to shelving for a seamless look. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 5 Sep. 2023 The ladder would also come in extra handy on the Red River, where Banaszak arrowed the new state record. Outdoor Life, 7 Sep. 2023 And that’s how this young American came to spend a few months working the lower rungs of the ladder at one of the world’s most famous restaurants, L’Arpège. Lawrence Specker |, al, 7 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ladder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near ladder

Cite this Entry

“Ladder.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


lad·​der ˈlad-ər How to pronounce ladder (audio)
: a structure for climbing that consists of two long pieces (as of wood, rope, or metal) joined at short distances by crosspieces on which one may step
: something that suggests a ladder in form or use
: a series of steps or stages : scale
the corporate ladder

More from Merriam-Webster on ladder

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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