\ ˈramp How to pronounce ramp (audio) \
ramped; ramping; ramps

Definition of ramp

 (Entry 1 of 4)

intransitive verb

1a : to stand or advance menacingly with forelegs or with arms raised
b : to move or act furiously
2 : to creep up used especially of plants
3 : to speed up, expand, or increase especially quickly or at a constant rate used with up ramping up to full speed

transitive verb

: to increase, expand, or decrease especially quickly or at a constant rate usually used with up or down ramp up production


noun (1)

Definition of ramp (Entry 2 of 4)

: the act or an instance of ramping


noun (2)

Definition of ramp (Entry 3 of 4)

: any of various alliums used for food


noun (3)

Definition of ramp (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : a sloping way or plane: such as
a : a sloping floor, walk, or roadway leading from one level to another
b : a slope for launching boats

First Known Use of ramp


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun (1)

1671, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1826, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

1705, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ramp


Middle English rampen, raumpen "to creep on the ground (of a snake or dragon), to spring up, rear up on the hind legs (of a lion or other large carnivore)," borrowed from Anglo-French ramper "to climb, rear up on the hind legs, creep" (also continental Old French), perhaps going back to a Germanic base *hramp- used in various expressive words, as Middle Dutch ramp "mishap, disaster," rampe "torticollis in birds," Middle Low German ramp "spasm, epilepsy, distress, disaster," Old English gehrumpen "wrinkled, coiled, contracted," Old High German rimpfan, preterit rampf "to shrivel, shrink"

Note: Though the Germanic origin of ramper is generally accepted (as by Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Trésor de la langue française), the semantic connections are tenuous. Hypothetically akin to this verb is a noun *hrampa- meaning "hook, claw," whence Italian rampa "claw, talon," alongside Spanish, Catalan rampa "cramp, spasm." Suggested Indo-European comparisons (Lithuanian kremblỹs "chantarelle," Greek krámbos "clear, dry [of a sound]") are even more tenuous.

Noun (1)

derivative of ramp entry 1

Noun (2)

back-formation from ramps, alteration (by intrusive p) of rams "the wild garlic Allium ursinum," going back to Middle English ramese, rampses, ramzys, going back to Old English hramsa, hramse (masculine or feminine weak noun), going back to Germanic *hramusan- or *hramusjōn- (whence also Old Saxon ramusia "wild garlic," Middle Low German ramese, remese, regional German Rams) going back to dialectal Indo-European *ḱrom-us-, ablaut variant of a noun seen also in Middle Irish crem, crim "wild garlic," Welsh craf, cra (< Celtic *kremo-, kramo-?), Russian čeremšá, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian srȉjemuš, srȉjemuša, also crȉjemuš, crȉjemuša, Lithuanian kermùšė, kermušė͂, beside šermùkšnis, šermùkšlė "mountain ash" (< *kerm-(o)us-i̯eh2, *ḱerm-(o)us-i̯eh2), Greek krómmyon, krémyon (Hesychius) "onion (Allium cepa) (< *ḱrom-us-o-/*ḱrem-us-o-)

Note: While Balto-Slavic has *ḱerm-, the other languages appear to have *ḱrVm- (or *ḱr̥m-?). The fluctuation between palatovelar and plain velar in Balto-Slavic has been explained as a result of an original *ḱrem-, with loss of palatal quality before r. The word is found only within European Indo-European, and regarded by some as a Wanderwort or borrowing from a substratal language.

Noun (3)

borrowed from French rampe, going back to Middle French, "inclined plane on which the steps of a staircase are built," noun derivative of ramper "to crawl, creep, move slowly along a surface," going back to Old French — more at ramp entry 1

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Time Traveler for ramp

Time Traveler

The first known use of ramp was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Ramp.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ramp. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ramp


\ ˈramp How to pronounce ramp (audio) \

Kids Definition of ramp

: a sloping passage or roadway connecting different levels a highway exit ramp

More from Merriam-Webster on ramp

Nglish: Translation of ramp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ramp for Arabic Speakers

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