noun, often attributive
lad·​der | \ ˈla-dər How to pronounce ladder (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ladderlike (audio) \ 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

Firefighters arrived quickly but their ladders were not equipped to reach higher than the seventh floor. Marlena Scott, Teen Vogue, "Many Women Who Died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 Were Young Immigrants," 25 Mar. 2019 Yesterday, the Lopez-Rodriguez gang were hard at work creating a suitably glamorous, J.Lo-worthy Christmas tree (which required an actual ladder to decorate), and looked like the perfect, down to earth family in their festive photos. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez Decorating The Christmas Tree With Their Kids is Just Too Cute," 10 Dec. 2018 For the infantry, these were a big improvement from the suicidal scaling ladders. William Gurstelle, Popular Mechanics, "How to Storm a Castle," 11 Apr. 2019 Because the Icefall is constantly moving, the ladders need to be adjusted daily. Alan Arnette, Outside Online, "Sherpas Fall Into Crevasse on Everest," 11 May 2018 The conditions of white women improve up the socioeconomic ladder. Britni Danielle,, "Black Mothers In NYC Are 12 Times More Likely To Die In Childbirth Than White Women," 16 Mar. 2018 Researchers have found that mobility is a critical rung in the ladder out of poverty. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Electric scooters’ sudden invasion of American cities, explained," 7 Sep. 2018 The band vamped while Beyonce initially appeared reluctant to descend via the ladder -- understandable considering her towering heels -- but eventually capitulated. Variety,, "Beyonce stranded by flying stage malfunction," 2 July 2018 More fan videos show Beyoncé getting coaxed into exiting the stage down the ladder, making her descent while wearing thigh-high heeled boots. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Beyoncé shown stranded on floating stage in apparent concert mishap in Poland," 2 July 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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Statistics for ladder

Last Updated

11 May 2019

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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
British : a long hole in a stocking


lad·​der | \ ˈla-dər How to pronounce ladder (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on ladder

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ladder

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ladder

Spanish Central: Translation of ladder

Nglish: Translation of ladder for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ladder for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ladder

What made you want to look up ladder? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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