rat·​line | \ ˈrat-lən How to pronounce ratline (audio) \

Definition of ratline

: any of the small transverse ropes attached to the shrouds of a ship so as to form the steps of a rope ladder usually used in plural

Illustration of ratline

Illustration of ratline

Examples of ratline in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For women artists, substance use is generally grouped under the larger umbrella of madness, historically a kind of ratline to institutionalization, often against their will, for women ranging from Zelda Fitzgerald to Britney Spears. New York Times, 24 Mar. 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ratline.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ratline

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ratline

Middle English radelyng

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Time Traveler for ratline

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The first known use of ratline was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ratline

rat kangaroo


rat mole

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Statistics for ratline

Last Updated

26 Mar 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ratline.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ratline. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ratline

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ratline


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