noun, often attributive
\ˈlīn \

Definition of line 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a length of cord or cord-like material: such as

(1) : a comparatively strong slender cord

(2) : clothesline

(3) : a rope used on shipboard

b(1) : a device for catching fish consisting of a cord with hooks and other fishing gear

(2) : scope for activity : rope

c : a length of material used in measuring and leveling used a line to level the foundation

d(1) : piping for conveying a fluid (such as steam) installed a new gas line

(2) : a narrow short synthetic tube that is inserted approximately one inch into a vein (as of the arm) to provide temporary intravenous access for the administration of fluid, medication, or nutrients

e(1) : a wire or pair of wires connecting one telegraph or telephone station with another or a whole system of such wires also : any circuit in an electronic communication system

(2) : a telephone connection tried to get a line also : an individual telephone extension a call on line 2

(3) : the principal circuits of an electric power system

2a(1) : a horizontal row of written or printed characters the last line on the page also : a blank row in lieu of such characters

(2) : a unit in the rhythmic structure of verse formed by the grouping of a number of the smallest units of the rhythm (such as metrical feet) The poem consisted of 14 lines.

(3) : a distinct segment of a computer program containing a single command or a small number of commands

b : a short letter : note dropped him a line confirming the date

c lines plural : a certificate of marriage

d : the words making up a part in a performance usually used in plural memorized his lines

e : any of the successive horizontal rows of picture elements on the screen of a cathode-ray tube (such as a television screen)

3a : something (such as a ridge or seam) that is distinct, elongated, and narrow growth lines in a tree trunk

b : a narrow crease (as on the face) : wrinkle

c : the course or direction of something in motion : route the line of flight of a bullet

d(1) : a state of agreement or conformity : accordance took a firm line with his nephew

(2) : a state of order, control, or obedience wouldn't let them get out of line

e(1) : a boundary of an area the state line

(2) : distinction 2 the fine line between love and hate

f : the track and roadbed of a railway

g : an amount of cocaine that is arranged in a line to be inhaled through the nose

4a : a course of conduct, action, or thought especially : an official or public position the party line

b : a field of activity or interest worked in the plumbing line

c : a glib often persuasive way of talking had a line to make the angels weep

5a : limit, restraint overstepped the line of good taste

b archaic : position in life : lot

6a(1) : family, lineage descended from a noble line

(2) : a strain produced and maintained especially by selective breeding or biological culture

(3) : a chronological series

b : orderly arrangements made to cover extended military positions and presenting a front to the enemy usually used in plural the lines of battle

c : a military formation in which the different elements are abreast of each other

d : naval ships arranged in a regular order

e(1) : the combatant forces of an army distinguished from the staff corps and supply services

(2) : the force of a regular navy

f(1) : officers of the navy eligible for command at sea distinguished from officers of the staff

(2) : officers of the army belonging to a combatant branch

g : an arrangement or placement of persons or objects of one kind in an orderly series a line of trees stand on line waiting in line also : the persons or objects so positioned the line moved slowly at the bank

h(1) : a group of public conveyances plying regularly under one management over a route

(2) : a system of transportation together with its equipment, routes, and appurtenances the eastern freight lines also : the company owning or operating it

i : a succession of musical notes especially considered in melodic phrases

j(1) : an arrangement of operations in manufacturing permitting sequential occurrence on various stages of production a production line

(2) : the personnel of an organization that are responsible for its stated objective

k(1) : the seven players including center, two guards, two tackles, and two ends who in offensive football play line up on or within one foot of the line of scrimmage

(2) : the players who in defensive play line up within one yard of the line of scrimmage

l : a group of three players including a left winger, center, and right winger who play together as a unit in hockey

7 : a narrow elongated mark drawn or projected: such as

a(1) : a circle of latitude or longitude on a map

(2) : equator

b : a mark (as on a map) recording a boundary, division, or contour

c : any of the horizontal parallel strokes on a music staff on or between which notes are placed — compare space

d : a mark (as by pencil) that forms part of the formal design of a picture distinguished from the shading or color

e : a division on a bridge score dividing the score for bonuses from that for tricks

f(1) : a demarcation of a limit with reference to which the playing of some game or sport is regulated usually used in combination

(2) : a marked or imaginary line across a playing area (such as a football field) parallel to the end line

(3) : line of scrimmage

8 : a straight or curved geometric element that is generated by a moving point and that has extension only along the path of the point : curve

9a : a defining outline : contour the rising line of the hills

b : a general plan : model usually used in plural explained the lines of his foreign policy

10a chiefly British : pica used to indicate the size of large type

b : the unit of fineness of halftones expressed as the number of screen lines to the linear inch

11 : merchandise or services of the same general class for sale or regularly available a full line of electrical supplies

12a : a source of information : insight

b : betting odds offered by a bookmaker especially on a sporting event

13 : a complete game of 10 frames in bowling

called also string

14 : line drive

between the lines

1 : by implication : in an indirect way

2 : by way of inference

down the line

1 : all the way : fully

2 : in the future

in line for

: due or in a position to receive

on line

: in or into operation

on the line

1 : at great risk puts his future on the line by backing that policy

2 : on the border between two categories


verb (1)
lined; lining

Definition of line (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to mark or cover with a line or lines lined paper

2 : to depict with lines : draw

3 : to place or form a line along pedestrians line the walks

4 : to form into a line or lines : align line up troops

5 : to hit (something, such as a baseball) hard and in a usually straight line

intransitive verb

1 : to hit a line drive in baseball

2 : to come into the correct relative position : align


verb (2)
lined; lining

Definition of line (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to cover the inner surface of line a cloak with silk

2 : to put something in the inside of : fill

3 : to serve as the lining of tapestries lined the walls

4 obsolete : fortify

line one's pockets

: to take money freely and especially dishonestly

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Other Words from line


liny or less commonly liney \ˈlī-​nē \ adjective

Synonyms for line

Synonyms: Noun

column, cue, file, queue, range, string, train

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Examples of line in a Sentence


I drew a straight line down the page to separate the two lists. Cut the paper along the dotted line. a tennis serve that was over the line After three hours on the road, they finally crossed the state line. Their yards were separated by a line of trees. Everybody had to get in line and wait their turn. The people were waiting in line.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Eiffel Tower was closed, as were museums and subway lines. Stacy Meichtry, WSJ, "Riots Resurface Across France, Piling Pressure on Macron," 9 Dec. 2018 Supply lines stayed intact, utilities were swiftly restored, damage was minimal, and, most importantly, there were no fatalities. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "How Alaska fixed its earthquake-shattered roads in just days," 8 Dec. 2018 Lightly grease an 8- by 4-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Gingerbread Pear Loaf," 7 Dec. 2018 The Jenna Dewan x Danskin line has 30 items, and includes athleisure bodysuits, leggings, hoodies, and leotards. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Jenna Dewan Launches Her Danskin Capsule Collection In Stores," 7 Dec. 2018 Complete the underwater illusion by threading some fishing line through a vinyl goldfish and using it to suspend him. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "Get the Whole Family Crafting With These Easy DIY Christmas Ornaments," 6 Dec. 2018 Paradise will not be open to the public for some time; the city is still a maze of closed roads and ruin, with workers in cranes trimming trees and fixing power lines. Scott Wilson, The Seattle Times, "Nearly a month after the Camp Fire began razing their towns, Californians return to ruin," 5 Dec. 2018 Most of the furniture—an intentionally sparse collection of wooden and woven items with simple lines—was purchased or handmade in Uruguay. Paola Singer, ELLE Decor, "In an Expat Enclave of Rural Uruguay, a Couple Finds Tranquility at Home," 1 Dec. 2018 The 3,645-square-foot house features long horizontal lines and floor-to-ceiling windows facing an open meadow and trees. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Midcentury modern on 135 acres asks $1.2M," 29 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'line.' 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 line


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

Verb (1)

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for line


Middle English; partly from Anglo-French lingne, from Latin linea, from feminine of lineus made of flax, from linum flax; partly from Old English līne; akin to Old English līn flax — more at linen

Verb (1)

see line entry 1

Verb (2)

Middle English, from line flax, from Old English līn

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Learn More about line

Dictionary Entries near line







line ahead

Statistics for line

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for line

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

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More Definitions for line



English Language Learners Definition of line

: a long narrow mark on a surface

: a mark on the ground that shows the edge of the playing area in a sport

: an area or border that separates two places


\ˈlīn \

Kids Definition of line

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a long thin cord or rope fishing lines Hang your clothes on the line.

2 : a long narrow mark Draw a line on your paper.

3 : an arrangement of people or things in a row We waited in line.

4 : a row of letters, words, or musical notes across a page or column

5 : the boundary or limit of a place the town line

6 : family sense 2 He comes from a long line of farmers.

7 : a way of behaving or thinking He took a firm line with his son.

8 : outline entry 1 sense 1, contour The sailboat has beautiful lines.

9 : an area of activity or interest What line of work are you in?

10 : the position of military forces who are facing the enemy

11 : a pipe carrying a fluid (as steam, water, or oil)

12 : an outdoor wire carrying electricity or a telephone signal

13 lines plural : the words of a part in a play

14 : the path along which something moves or is directed It's in my line of vision.

15 : the track of a railway

16 : agreement sense 1, harmony They tried to bring their ideas into line.

17 : a system of transportation a bus line

18 : the football players whose positions are along the line of scrimmage

19 : a geometric element produced by moving a point

20 : a plan for making or doing something I wrote a story along these lines.


lined; lining

Kids Definition of line (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to indicate with or draw a long narrow mark

2 : to place or be placed in a row along Shops line the street.

line up

1 : to gather or arrange in a row or rows The children lined up.

2 : to put into alignment Make sure the pieces line up.


lined; lining

Kids Definition of line (Entry 3 of 3)

: to cover the inner surface of line a coat


\ˈlīn \

Medical Definition of line 

1 : something (as a ridge, seam, mark, or streak) that is distinct, elongated, and narrow — see linea

2 : a strain produced and maintained especially by selective breeding or biological culture

3 : a narrow short synthetic tube (as of plastic) that is inserted approximately one inch into a vein (as of the arm) to provide temporary intravenous access for the administration of fluid, medication, or nutrients

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More from Merriam-Webster on line

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with line

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for line

Spanish Central: Translation of line

Nglish: Translation of line for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of line for Arabic Speakers

Comments on line

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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