ratchet

noun
ratch·​et | \ ˈra-chət How to pronounce ratchet (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of ratchet

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a mechanism that consists of a bar or wheel having inclined teeth into which a pawl drops so that motion can be imparted to the wheel or bar, governed, or prevented and that is used in a hand tool (such as a wrench or screwdriver) to allow effective motion in one direction only
2 : a pawl or detent for holding or propelling a toothed wheel

ratchet

verb
variants: or less commonly rachet
ratcheted also racheted; ratcheting also racheting; ratchets also rachets

Definition of ratchet (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause to move by steps or degrees usually used with up or down tried to ratchet down the debt

intransitive verb

: to proceed by steps or degrees

Examples of ratchet in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Don't use your torque wrench like a ratchet for disassembly—save it for final assembly. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How to Use a Torque Wrench to Keep Your Car from Flying Apart," 26 Feb. 2019 This suggests the Powell-Clarida Fed won’t be a slave to Phillips Curve calculations that suggest rates must rise in a ratchet when the jobless rate hits a certain level. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Fed’s Welcome Rethink," 28 Nov. 2018 Most snowshoes rely on fidgety straps and buckles, but Tubbs Flex VRT attach to your boots with a ratchet-style BOA closure that’s easy to adjust even with thick gloves. Clint Carter, WSJ, "Never Camped in the Snow? You’re Missing Out.," 11 Dec. 2018 Regulation usually functions like a ratchet, so regulators ought to take that into account when assessing its likely costs. WSJ, "Social Engineering Via Cost-Benefit Fiddles," 7 Oct. 2018 The interview, published during a gala dinner May hosted for Trump at Blenheim Palace, appeared to further ratchet up tensions in a relationship that’s been fraught since the president assumed office. Fortune, "Trump Apologizes to May and Vows U.K. Trade Deal After Brexit," 13 July 2018 Another loss would equal the team's longest slide since 2007 and likely ratchet up the pressure on Schmid, who has won just five of 24 games since replacing Curt Onalfo as coach last summer. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "Reeling Galaxy need to stop slide in Montreal," 20 May 2018 That jams the transmission’s parking pawl against its ratchet mechanism. Ray Magliozzi, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Weighing the pros and cons of using the parking brake," 29 June 2018 As with most unfounded conspiracy theories spewing from this ratchet administration, Trump pushed this nonsense on Twitter, claiming that Mueller’s team is made up of Democrats and one corrupt Republican (Mueller), Yahoo! Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump’s Latest Conspiracy Theory Might Be His Craziest Yet," 29 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With little more than two months to go before that deadline, companies are ratcheting up their Brexit preparations. Max Colchester, WSJ, "Airbus CEO Calls Brexit Talks a ‘Disgrace’," 24 Jan. 2019 Photo: justin lane/Shutterstock Also contributing to Friday’s gains is optimism the U.S. will ratchet back tariffs on Chinese imports. Riva Gold, WSJ, "U.S. Stocks Continue to Move Higher," 18 Jan. 2019 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been a fierce critic of Israel and dramatically ratcheted up his rhetoric this week over Gaza and the U.S. embassy move. Aron Heller, chicagotribune.com, "Following U.S. lead, Guatemala moves embassy to Jerusalem," 16 May 2018 Curators can also identify the cultural flash points—the NFL, Colin Kaepernick, the memo—that fire people up, so botnets can ratchet up the velocity of the most incendiary memes. Virginia Heffernan, WIRED, "Social Media Makes Us Soldiers in the War Against Ourselves," 2 May 2018 For now, there is no consensus in the EU in ratcheting up pressure on Iran. Laurence Norman, WSJ, "Pence’s Calls to Pressure Iran Fall on Deaf Ears in Europe," 17 Feb. 2019 Overlord is an impressive directorial statement from a confident filmmaker who can handle dynamic action sequences and ratchet up tension like an action and horror veteran. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Overlord is a gloriously entertaining piece of B-movie schlock," 9 Nov. 2018 This plan would initially institute a tax of approximately $40/ton of carbon dioxide released and ratchet up progressively. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Why would Exxon donate $1 million to a carbon tax initiative?," 9 Oct. 2018 The immediate prospect is for the trade dispute to percolate for the remainder of this year, gradually ratcheting up the economic pain in both countries. Danielle Paquette, The Seattle Times, "New round of US-China tariffs raise fears of an economic Cold War," 18 Sep. 2018

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

Noun

1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1972, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for ratchet

Noun

alteration of earlier rochet, from French, alteration of Middle French rocquet ratchet, bobbin, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German rocko distaff — more at rock

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Statistics for ratchet

Last Updated

7 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ratchet

The first known use of ratchet was in 1654

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More Definitions for ratchet

ratchet

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ratchet

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device made up of a wheel or bar with many teeth along its edge in between which a piece fits so that the wheel or bar can move only in one direction

ratchet

verb

English Language Learners Definition of ratchet (Entry 2 of 2)

: to increase or decrease (something) especially by a series of small steps or amounts

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More from Merriam-Webster on ratchet

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ratchet

Spanish Central: Translation of ratchet

Nglish: Translation of ratchet for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ratchet

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