Definition of ratchet in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈratʃɪt/


1A device consisting of a bar or wheel with a set of angled teeth in which a pawl, cog, or tooth engages, allowing motion in one direction only: [as modifier]: a ratchet screwdriver
More example sentences
  • A ratchet is a mechanical device that restricts movement in one direction and allows movement in the opposite direction.
  • I like this position as it means that, if required, you can easily engage or disengage the ratchet with the hand that is holding the rod while playing a fish.
  • Unlike using a ratchet, which allows for only a series of preset pitches, to hold the blades in position, the cam can grip anywhere along the guide are, allowing for very fine adjustments.
1.1A bar or wheel that forms part of a ratchet.
Example sentences
  • The drive mechanism may comprise a ratchet and pawl.
  • The device was designed and built by chemists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Bologna, and it is the hydrogen bonds that act as locking teeth on a molecular ratchet, controlling the movements of the wheels.
  • In the same area is the lever that engages the ratchet to rotate the cylinder.
2A situation or process that is perceived to be changing in a series of irreversible steps: the upward ratchet of property taxes
More example sentences
  • In three major towns in Antrim, the sectarian ratchet is being turned up.
  • That would have given each worker a stake of £100,000 or more, based on the equity ratchet, and a real incentive to drive forward shareholder value.
  • The international and domestic prestige that can be derived from space achievements can best be understood as a series of ratchets on a downward slope.

verb (ratchets, ratcheting, ratcheted)

[with object]
1Operate by means of a ratchet: (as adjective ratcheted) a ratcheted quick release system (as adjective ratcheting) a smooth ratcheting action
More example sentences
  • The researchers aimed to use the brake to ratchet the propeller in only one direction, by executing a series of chemical reactions between blade and brake.
  • Somewhere a Dumpster is ratcheted open by the claws of a black machine.
  • Quickly repeating these jaw movements, the threadsnake ratchets the squirmy prey farther and farther down the hatch.
2 (ratchet something up/down) Cause something to rise (or fall) as a step in what is perceived as an irreversible process: the Bank of Japan ratcheted up interest rates again
More example sentences
  • The last battle, in particular, really ratchets up the tension.
  • But as the vice president ratchets up his attacks on John Kerry, questions are raised about Cheney himself and his role in a campaign that is coming more into focus.
  • The tension ratchets upwards a notch in each successive movement.


Mid 17th century: from French rochet, originally denoting a blunt lance head, later in the sense 'bobbin, ratchet'; related to the base of archaic rock 'quantity of wool on a distaff for spinning'.

Words that rhyme with ratchet

hatchet, latchet

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ratchet

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