There are 2 main definitions of line in English:

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line 1

Pronunciation: /lʌɪn/


1A long, narrow mark or band: a row of closely spaced dots will look like a continuous line I can’t draw a straight line
More example sentences
  • Put your measuring tape on the floor, mark a line at 15 in then mark a line at 40 in.
  • The red line drawn on the ground in the Mitte District marks where the wall stood.
  • I huddled close to Mark, seeing the line of orange light on the carpet where the thick curtains didn't meet properly.
dash, rule, bar, score;
underline, underscore, stroke, slash, virgule, solidus;
stripe, strip, band, streak, belt, striation
technical stria
British  oblique
1.1 Mathematics A straight or curved continuous extent of length without breadth.
Example sentences
  • So the length of the circumference of the circle is expressed in terms of the lengths of straight lines.
  • Mill takes lines without breadth and points without length to be limit concepts.
  • In the latter work al-Tusi discussed objections raised by earlier mathematicians to comparing lengths of straight lines and of curved lines.
1.2A direct course: the ball rose in a straight line
More example sentences
  • For the first time in 122 years, earth and Venus will be in a direct line with the sun.
  • A properly set alignment must always be in a direct line with the intended target.
  • If everyone just took off and went in a direct line to the destination, there would be utter chaos.
course, route, track, channel, path, way, run;
trajectory, bearing, orientation
1.3A furrow or wrinkle in the skin, especially on the face: there were new lines round her eyes and mouth laughter lines
More example sentences
  • Although the effects of laser resurfacing can last for years, wrinkles and expression lines recur as skin ages.
  • Skin damage, including lines and wrinkles, can actually start showing up in your 20s.
  • His hair is graying already, he has grey stubble on his chin, wrinkles, laugh lines, and crows feet.
1.4A contour or outline considered as a feature of design or composition: crisp architectural lines [mass noun]: the artist’s use of clean line and colour
More example sentences
  • Smooth sensual lines and bold designs feature in a combination of glazed and matt finishes for a stylish contemporary result.
  • This urban contemporary collection keeps things in perspective with simple forms, clean lines and subtle shapes.
  • Classics are styles that have been popular for years because of their clean lines and utilitarian features.
1.5(On a map or graph) a curve connecting all points having a specified common property.
Example sentences
  • One can look at mathematical collaborations as a graph - an array of points connected by lines.
  • If you remember back to an economics class you might have taken, much time was spent on the intersection of lines in those graphs.
  • The screen pulled up in front of her shows a slightly fluctuating graph with two thin lines.
1.6A line marking the starting or finishing point in a race: a good position at the start line will put you in the front rank on the first leg
More example sentences
  • In fleet racing, the dominant type at the Olympics, the first to cross the line wins the race.
  • Earlier, Goodison had failed to go back after being over the start line when racing belatedly began an hour late.
  • It was great to see so many young athletes on the starting line for every race.
1.7(In football, hockey, etc.) the goal line: Dunne was on hand to bundle the ball over the line video evidence suggests the ball did not cross the line
More example sentences
  • The Belgian took the second set when she clubbed a forehand down the line.
  • The home favourite served for the match and closed it out on a second match point with a backhand down the line.
  • First he drove just wide, then had a shot blocked before his third effort was cleared off the Newport line by Mark Fletcher.
1.8 (the Line) The equator.
1.9A notional limit or boundary: the issue of peace cut across class lines television blurs the line between news and entertainment
More example sentences
  • The communications revolution has blurred traditional class lines.
  • A lot has been made over the last couple of years of the lines being blurred between news and entertainment.
  • In southern Louisiana, a fierce love of place cuts across lines of class and religion.
boundary, boundary line, limit, border, borderline, bound, bounding line, frontier, partition, demarcation line, dividing line, end point, cut-off point, termination, edge, pale, margin, perimeter, periphery, rim, extremity, fringe, threshold
1.10Each of the very narrow horizontal sections forming a television picture.
Example sentences
  • Once again, Baird television sets were on sale, this time at the new television standard of 625 lines.
  • If your receiver drifted out of sync, the picture dissolved into meaningless dots and lines.
1.11 Physics A narrow range of the spectrum that is noticeably brighter or darker than the adjacent parts.
Example sentences
  • The extremely narrow lines of the solar spectrum require filters with correspondingly high resolution.
  • They proposed the name of rubidium for the element because of the dark red color of the most prominent of its spectral lines.
  • He found spectral lines that had never been observed before and decided that they were produced by a new element.
1.12 (the line) The level of the base of most letters, such as h and x, in printing and writing.
1.13 [as modifier] Printing & Computing Denoting an image consisting of lines and solid areas, with no gradation of tone: a line block line art
More example sentences
  • You may have noticed I've been switching around the line art images at the top of the page.
  • This is the first stage of my cover artwork idea - black and white line art.
  • It supports a huge variety of line styles so you can create complex illustrations.
1.14Each of (usually five) horizontal lines forming a stave in musical notation.
Example sentences
  • The traditional notation system of five lines on a paper is not the main method of training.
1.15A sequence of notes or tones forming an instrumental or vocal melody: a powerful melodic line
More example sentences
  • This ranks among the most spectacular music of its age, with its thrilling textures and virtuoso vocal lines.
  • The flute carries the melodic lines throughout with the piano providing the simple accompaniment.
  • There is too much pulling about of the melodic line in the first movement for my taste.
1.16 informal A dose of a powdered narcotic drug, especially cocaine, laid out in a line ready to be taken.
Example sentences
  • Now, I have the odd pint and maybe the odd line of cocaine on a special occasion.
  • He told police that he had snorted two lines of cocaine that evening, December 11 last year, but claimed the drug had no effect.
  • He also told the jury he had had four lines of cocaine and ten pints of lager that evening.
2A length of cord, rope, wire, or other material serving a particular purpose: Lily pegged the washing on the line
More example sentences
  • I seem to remember reading something about a study that showed a definite link between high voltage lines and increased cancer risk.
  • He said that whatever electricity lines came from the sub-station would be carried on wooden poles.
  • Their primary concern is the potential health risks associated with high voltage overhead lines.
2.1A telephone connection or service: I’ve got Inspector Jackson on the line for you a freephone advice line
More example sentences
  • The high winds just blew away the infrastructure, broadband connections snapped and telephone lines went dead.
  • Telephone lines were jammed and mobile phone services briefly crashed as panicked residents called family and friends.
  • Meanwhile, officers at some stations found they could not get an outside line from landline phones.
2.2A railway track: passengers were hit by delays caused by leaves on the line
More example sentences
  • He then managed to find a hole in the fence by the railway line and ran onto the tracks.
  • Residents in Station Road are angry that trees have been chopped down to prevent leaves falling on to the railway line.
  • Last week in South Yorkshire a metal pole was placed on a railway line which pierced the underneath of a passenger carriage.
2.3A branch or route of a railway system: the Glasgow to London line
More example sentences
  • Visions of a metro system, light railways, reopened suburban lines and new tram links have been held out in front of us.
  • Other than the expressway, two dedicated railway lines have been planned to connect Bangalore to Devanahalli.
  • I'm now sat on the train from London to Braintree, a town at the end of a branch line off the main capital to coast route.
2.4A company that provides ships, aircraft, or buses on particular routes on a regular basis: a major shipping line
More example sentences
  • Already, the major shipping lines want to reduce the number of calls made to ports in north-west Europe.
  • All the major lines offer a number of routes and cruise itineraries for the Caribbean.
  • Yes, there is life even after retirement with plenty of openings in ship building industry and shipping lines.
3A horizontal row of written or printed words: take the cursor up one line and press the delete key
More example sentences
  • When a young man refused to buy a ticket, the conductor pointed out a couple of lines written in bold letters on the front of the bus.
  • Luxembourg wrote those lines three years before the outbreak of the barbarism that was World War One.
  • Despite years of research, I cannot find a shred of evidence that Emily wrote a single line of Wuthering Heights.
3.1A part of a poem or song forming one row of written or printed words: each stanza has eight lines
More example sentences
  • Written in iambic pentameter, it is comprised of two stanzas of four lines each, rhyming abab.
  • He concluded by quoting a line from a poem by Petrarch.
  • The concluding lines of the poem stress the power the experience still holds.
sentence, phrase, group of words, prosodic unit, construction, clause, utterance;
passage, extract, quotation, quote, citation, section, piece, part, snippet, sound bite, fragment, portion
3.2 (lines) The words of an actor’s part in a play or film: he couldn’t seem to remember his lines and had to read his dialogue off boards
More example sentences
  • If an actor forgot his lines, a special button was pressed to cut off the sound to the viewer.
  • He sees how each scene should look, how the music should feel, how the actors should speak their lines.
  • We have all seen this movie a hundred times and can pretty much speak all the actor's lines from memory.
words, role, part, script, speech, dialogue
3.3 (lines) British An amount of text or number of repetitions of a sentence written out as a school punishment: five hundred lines to anyone caught sneaking in before the bell!
More example sentences
  • At school he had to draw pictures instead of doing lines as punishment.
  • His detention turns out to be much more unorthodox than writing a hundred lines.
4A row of people or things: a line of altar boys proceeded down the aisle
More example sentences
  • We see long lines of traffic on single lanes leading up to roundabouts when common sense dictates that an extra lane should have been put in from day one.
  • Long lines of blood donors queued up outside area hospitals.
  • By the time the doors opened, more than 100 people had queued, in a line stretching back to Peasholme Green.
4.1North American A queue.
Example sentences
  • A woman in the line ahead of me kept up a running commentary on whether to have a soda or a soft ice - cream, but when she finally reached the counter there was no soft ice cream left.
  • At the American supermarket I learnt that we must join the line, not the queue.
  • It took me less than 15 minutes yesterday to fill the car with gasoline as there were only 11 vehicles waiting in the line ahead of me.
4.2A connected series of people following one another in time (used especially of several generations of a family): we follow the history of a family through the male line
More example sentences
  • Expert practitioners in Japan can trace their family lines back through 43 generations of Ikenobo masters.
  • Mrs Caywood-Guffy has traced her family line back to an ancestor who lived in Cawood in 1200.
  • All titles were heritable and followed the male line of descent almost exclusively.
4.3A series of related things: the bill is the latest in a long line of measures to protect society from criminals
More example sentences
  • Last night a spokesman for Leeds United said that the leaflet was the latest in a long line of measures aimed at stamping out the problem.
  • The new out-patient department is the latest in a line of enhanced services being provided from the hospital.
  • Norwich Union is the latest in a long line of financial services companies to move call centre jobs to India.
4.4A range of commercial goods: the company intends to hire more people and expand its product line
More example sentences
  • Now he hoped to expand his line of products and services by taking advantage of the Web.
  • The company has streamlined its existing product range and launched the new lines after extensive consumer research.
  • It's not surprising, then, that the demand for new products and new lines at Wal-Mart is unending.
brand, kind, sort, type, variety, make, label, trade name, trademark, registered trademark
5An area or branch of activity: the stresses unique to their line of work
More example sentences
  • Yet again, it has been made clear to me that I'm in the wrong line of work.
  • She realises she is going into a competitive line of work.
  • Also, hopefully, I am in a line of work that will allow me to keep going beyond the conventional retirement age.
line of work, line of business, business, field, trade, occupation, employment, profession, work, job, day job, calling, vocation, career, pursuit, activity, walk of life;
specialty, forte, province, department, sphere, area, area of expertise, domain, realm;
French métier
informal line of country, game, thing, bag, pigeon, racket
5.1A direction, course, or channel: he opened another line of attack
More example sentences
  • Contemporary opponents of liberalism prefer indirect lines of attack.
  • Sometimes the various lines of attack become crossed.
  • We'll have to wait and see what the reasons are but there are essentially two overlapping lines of attack.
5.2 (lines) A manner of doing or thinking about something: you can’t run a business on these lines the superintendent was thinking along the same lines
More example sentences
  • We both seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
  • And last night I had a conversation with my dad along the same lines.
  • In some ways NHS policy is moving along the same lines.
course, direction, drift, tack, tendency, trend, bias, tenor
5.3An agreed approach; a policy: the official line is that there were no chemical attacks on allied troops
More example sentences
  • The senior civil servants are expected to brief their departmental ministers according to the agreed line.
  • Under his tenure its political line has been marked by a further shift to the right.
  • The SNP is giving its MSPs a free vote on this, not least because it has yet to establish a common line.
5.4 informal A false or exaggerated remark or story: he fed me a line about some nightclubbing Japanese photographer none of my chat-up lines ever worked
More example sentences
  • The chairman stated that the company is back on track, but that line has been around for a while and investors do not seem to be buying it.
  • The more you hear this line repeated throughout the season, the more trouble the Yankees are in.
  • Of course, his convincing line to me was that his only interest in America was the fact that he found me here.
patter, story, pitch, piece of fiction, fabrication
informal spiel
6A connected series of military fieldworks or defences facing an enemy force: raids behind enemy lines
More example sentences
  • The United States had no unit dedicated to the resupply of forces behind enemy lines.
  • He began to recruit, train and insert agents who would gather intelligence behind enemy lines.
  • When asked about the prospect of being shot down behind enemy lines, Breen remembers the optimism of youth.
position, formation, disposition, front, front line, firing line;
6.1An arrangement of soldiers or ships in a column or line formation; a line of battle.
Example sentences
  • After a series of running fights between detachments, each side managed to form a battle line.
  • The viewer, like the soldiers, has no clear sense of the battle lines.
  • Toward the end of the war, units were changing their offensive tactics from massed lines to small groups.
file, rank, column, string, chain;
train, convoy, procession;
British informal crocodile
6.2 (the line) Regular army regiments (as opposed to auxiliary forces or household troops).


[with object]
1Stand or be positioned at intervals along: a processional route lined by people waving flags
More example sentences
  • The next day thousands of spectators lined the route.
  • Scores of police on foot and horseback lined the route as the protestors marched at a slow pace, bringing traffic to a standstill.
  • Although thousands of people lined the pavements to salute the couple, the turnout was much lower than had been expected.
2 (usually as adjective lined) Mark or cover with lines: a thin woman with a lined face lined paper
More example sentences
  • Over her shoulder, she cast Mark a curious glance before unfolding the small, lined piece of paper.
  • As for the writing paper (which should never be called note paper), this must be plain, not lined, and white or ivory.
  • His face has always had that lined and lived-in look, but as he sits sipping a glass of water in an Edinburgh hotel he has the luminescent glow of someone who keeps fit and healthy.



above the line

1 Finance Denoting or relating to money spent on items of current expenditure: £75 million charges taken above the line for redundancies and property write-offs
More example sentences
  • The £67 million would be split 50: 50 above the line and below the line.
  • Any credits that appear within earnings, reflecting amortization of a reduction in the liability estimates, would be above the line, potentially aiding executive pay along with the stock price.
  • Figure that the gross point players have got to be in for 10 to 20 percent this time around and that above the line cash costs have to be around $30 million.
2 Marketing Denoting or relating to advertising in the mass media: with no above-the-line advertising spend, every spare dollar available for marketing is directed towards point-of-sale promotions
More example sentences
  • The company is to unveil the above-the-line component of a new music-based campaign during Saturday's AFL grand final.
  • Marketing is changing: the customer experience no longer recognizes offline, online, above the line or below.
  • The company plans a substantial "above-the-line" campaign, which means any marketing support beyond what the carrier plans to provide.
3 Bridge Denoting bonus points and penalty points, which do not count towards the game.
Example sentences
  • The player who makes seven or more tricks scores as though they had played a contract of 1NT, and gets an additional premium of 100 above the line.

all (the way) down (or along) the line

At every point or stage: the mistakes were due to lack of care all down the line
More example sentences
  • There is going to be absolute heartbreak all the way down the line.
  • We're going to campaign against it all the way down the line to the Senate vote and on to the election.
  • At every point, I thought somebody was going to resolve the matter, but all the way along the line, whoever I went to just made it worse.

along (or down) the line

At a further, later, or unspecified point: I knew that somewhere down the line there would be an inquest
More example sentences
  • She was maybe 20 and had vague hopes, somewhere down the line, of becoming an actor.
  • He's obviously spoken out at some point down the line and upset his manager.
  • They may be simply storing up more problems for themselves down the line.

below the line

Pronunciation: /bɪˌləʊ ðə ˈlʌɪn/
1 Finance Denoting or relating to money spent on items of capital expenditure: a £4 million extraordinary charge below the line
2 Marketing Denoting or relating to advertising by means such as direct mail, email, promotional events, etc. they choose to spend the bulk of their budget in below-the-line digital marketing
More example sentences
  • Some wireless carrier executives said the company also spends more on below-the-line marketing than any device-maker.
  • Research shows that for certain customers below-the-line marketing is much more effective than above-the-line marketing.
  • A combination of below-the-line media deliver a good media mix that carries the consumer down the media path to persuasion effectively.
3 Bridge Denoting points for tricks bid and won, which count towards the game.
Example sentences
  • Anything the opponents had below the line does not count towards the next game - they start from zero again.
4Denoting or relating to a section at the end of an online article or blog post in which readers can post comments: the issue causes embarrassment in the UK, as you can see from the numerous comments below the line
More example sentences
  • I'm going to blog some reactions to today's expected marriage rulings, below the line.
  • We will usually provide some commentary below the line.
  • From reading below the line here there seem to be quite enough people who share your views without needing to make them up.

bring someone/thing into line

Cause someone or something to conform: the change in the law will bring Britain into line with Europe
More example sentences
  • Big enterprises found it easy to get funding to upgrade their premises to bring them into line with the regulations, but small local businesses did not have such opportunities.
  • Huge pressure is being put on England to bring its legal system into line with the rest of the European Union.
  • The Law Society has written to 150 solicitors warning them to bring their websites into line with new advertising regulations or face disciplinary action.

come down to the line

(Of a race) be closely fought right until the end.
Example sentences
  • If it comes down to the line, which team would I place my money on?
  • It all came down to the line with Biziak and Kavas just forcing out Laos and Raagel to win gold with Estonia taking silver and Hungary winning a credible bronze.

cross a (or the) line

Do something that is outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour: this article crossed a line and I am disgusted
More example sentences
  • When a president attacks your life and your family on national television, he has crossed a line that makes it impossible to support him with integrity.
  • A lot of people felt that this leak crossed a line, which it certainly did.
  • He assumed our conversation was simply banter and thought I had crossed a line.

come into line

Conform: Britain has come into line with other Western democracies in giving the vote to its citizens living abroad
More example sentences
  • This year Ontario comes into line with most of the rest of North America in transforming a typical high school diploma into a four-year process.
  • An FA spokesman confirmed yesterday that English football was likely to come into line with the rest of the world next season.
  • The move was motivated by the need to come into line with European Union expectations regarding energy prices, global fuel prices, and to reduce losses by the national oil and gas company.

do a line with

Irish & NZ informal Have a regular romantic or sexual romantic relationship with (someone): I knew if I went home for Christmas I’d have to pretend I was doing a line with some man
More example sentences
  • They danced with us early in the night and after their social responsibilities to us were over, they went off to dance with whomever they were doing a line with, or women of their own age.
  • Veronica told her that in the four years she had been doing a line with Andy, she never risked bringing him inside the door in case Jacko had drink in him.

draw a line under

Resolve not to engage in further discussion or consideration of (a difficult or distressing issue or situation): we need to draw a line under this whole affair, not prolong it

draw the line

Set a limit on what one is willing to do or accept: Alex shared the domestic work but drew the line at laundry and mending

the end of the line

see the end of the road at end. The point at which further effort is unproductive or one can go no further.
Example sentences
  • Jeff's a man with integrity and compassion who nevertheless finds himself at the end of the line thanks to the poor choices and unwise decisions he's made in life.
  • I am afraid you have reached the end of the line so far as the law courts are concerned.
  • Mr Crawford's fight finally reached the end of the line this month when his appeal was dismissed.

get a line on

informal Learn something about: the police had no difficulty getting a line on the man
More example sentences
  • Though the network often used freelancers, I'd never worked with Bill before so I was trying to get a line on what he was seeing through his lens.
  • And remember Sheldon if you get a line on where Regan is you call me, is that clear?
  • She's got a line on a two-bedroom apartment in nearby Le Sueur that might be affordable.

in line

1Under control: that threat kept a lot of people in line
More example sentences
  • The church has overused the concept of unity in the name of control and keeping people in line.
  • The desire to control women and keep us in line is both overt and covert in North America.
  • When I was younger, I was arrogant, as a lot of people are at that age, but that's how George and Gary kept me in line.
2chiefly North American In a queue: we stood in line at the counter
More example sentences
  • The teller got up from behind his desk, and went over to one of the children waiting in line.
  • The person in line ahead of me had 13 items in the 10-or-less lane.
  • Standing in line to order a cup of coffee to battle the cold, I fidgeted with my wallet.
in a queue, in a row, in a column, in a file

in line for

Likely to receive: the club are in line for a windfall of three hundred thousand pounds
More example sentences
  • Only I don't think I'll be in line for the sort of settlement she's likely to receive.
  • Olympic boxing silver medallist Amir Khan is in line for yet another high profile award.
  • Aussie Kris Tassell, who has been chased by Welsh Rugby Union clubs, is also in line for a new contract.
a candidate for, in the running for, on the shortlist for, shortlisted for, being considered for, under consideration for, next in succession for, likely to receive, up for, ready for

in the line of duty

While one is working (used mainly of police officers or soldiers): an inspector’s funeral is given only for those killed in the line of duty
More example sentences
  • In the United States, in the last three months, we've lost about 56 police officers in the line of duty.
  • The Minister said 241 police officers had died in the line of duty over the last 141 years.
  • He called on the government to review its provision of payments for soldiers injured or killed in the line of duty to prevent the need to buy private insurance.

in (or out of) line with

In (or not in) alignment or accordance with: remuneration is in line with comparable international organizations
More example sentences
  • They say this figure is out of line with what is being charged in other local authority areas.
  • This has been our policy for some time and is in line with most other train companies' policies.
  • This would bring the law in line with that on offensive weapons such as knives.

lay (or put) it on the line

Speak frankly: I’m going to have to lay it on the line, tell them what really has been happening
More example sentences
  • I love guys that lay it on the line and say what they have to say and don't mince words.
  • If the cancer had been discovered when I was married and had kids, then the surgeon would have laid it on the line, giving me time to make the sort of arrangements one would have to make in those circumstances.
  • However, rather than giving some lame excuse for his non-participation, he's decided to lay it on the line.
speak frankly, be direct, speak honestly, pull no punches, be blunt, not mince one's words, call a spade a spade
informal give it to someone straight, tell it like it is

line in the sand

A point beyond which one will not go; a limit to what one will do or accept: the banks drew a line in the sand: there was to be no additional help
More example sentences
  • And he is adamant that the GAA, if it is to prosper, has to become semi-professional, although he would draw a line in the sand well before it could reach all-out professionalism.
  • Today, my Government is drawing a line in the sand and saying enough is enough.
  • As was clear then and since, this wasn't the most propitious moment to draw a line in the sand - neither Britain or France were in a position to actually defend Poland.

line abreast

Nautical A formation in which a number of ships travel side by side.
Example sentences
  • About 12.30 pm, during the general mêlée, three aircraft came at our starboard side, more or less in line abreast.
  • I cross-checked my formation… I'm out of position, aft of line abreast.
  • After the other escort aircraft landed, all aircraft taxied to the dais, parked line abreast, and carried out a formation shutdown.

line ahead

Nautical A formation in which a number of ships follow one another in a line.
Example sentences
  • In battle, the contending fleets sailed in line ahead, one ship following another, to bring the largest number of guns to bear on the enemy.
  • Squadron upon squadron rise to a great height, break into line ahead and there, the first machines hurtle perpendicularly down, followed by the second, third - ten, twelve aeroplanes are there.

line astern

A formation in which a number of aircraft or ships follow one another in a line.
Example sentences
  • They stay in line astern formation and head for the Discovery, followed closely by the rest of the Eagles and the eight Bright Stars ships.
  • We saw their vapor trails very high and almost overhead as they went into line astern, rolled over and started down right on top of us.
  • Then the CO gave us the order to go line astern - one-two-three.

line of communications

A means of connection between an army in the field and its bases.
Example sentences
  • Once the forces of law and order have established control over an entire area or most of an area, the insurgents shift to guerrilla warfare, ambushing lines of communications, and attacking small garrisons.
  • Finally, from the rear of the army back to the base of operations was the indispensable line of communications, along which supplies and reinforcements would flow.
  • The flight was made with the primary purpose of attempting to locate a large Mexican troop force, reported to have been moving southeast toward the US Army's line of communications.

line of credit

Pronunciation: /ˌlʌɪn əv ˈkrɛdɪt/
An amount of credit extended to a borrower.
Example sentences
  • In the age of brokerage accounts, credit cards, home equity loans, lines of credit and mutual funds, bank deposits are virtually useless as an indicator of available buying power.
  • Eliminate as much debt as possible, especially ‘variable rate’ debt, such as credit cards and lines of credit.
  • In recent years, many homeowners have used home equity lines of credit to pay off credit cards, make home improvements or pay college tuition.

line of fire

Pronunciation: /ˌlʌɪn əv ˈfʌɪə/
The expected path of gunfire or a missile: residents within line of fire were evacuated from their homes
More example sentences
  • Sixteen residents have been put up in temporary accommodation and 43 are trapped in their homes because they are in the gunman's line of fire.
  • He saw Jim try to move out of the line of fire, but it was too late.
  • Instead a public servant has been sent into the line of fire as a fall-guy, a scapegoat, to take the heat.

line of flight

Pronunciation: /ˌlʌɪn əv ˈflʌɪt/
A route taken through the air.
Example sentences
  • The ball has a principal axis of rotation parallel to the clubface and perpendicular to the line of flight.
  • During flight, the base of the projectile is blown off and centrifugal force disperses the grenades radially from the projectile line of flight.
  • They allowed Rob to line up directly with their line of flight before he turned on his landing lights.

line of force

An imaginary line which represents the strength and direction of a magnetic, gravitational, or electric field at any point.
Example sentences
  • So, scientists agreed that to keep everyone talking about the same thing, that magnetic lines of force should travel from North to South.
  • One of Maxwell's most important achievements was his extension and mathematical formulation of Michael Faraday's theories of electricity and magnetic lines of force.
  • Io's orbit cuts across Jupiter's powerful magnetic lines of force, turning Io into a giant electricity generator.

the line of least resistance


line of march

The route taken in marching.
Example sentences
  • The mode presenting the greatest risk to life is truck transport because its manned systems are restricted to moving along linear lines of march.
  • In the initial period of war, they were infrequently committed to combat right from the line of march to carry out spoiling attacks, but more often than not, they went over to the defensive.
  • On 31 August he was promoted général de brigade and given a division: his general's stars were taken from an old tunic found in a house on the line of march.

line of sight

A straight line along which an observer has unobstructed vision: a building which obstructs our line of sight
More example sentences
  • Major objects or images are located along critical lines of sight to reinforce the main messages of the exhibition and to surprise visitors with something unexpected, thus challenging their preconceptions about Africa.
  • The range of conventional radar, the kind you see at airports with its rotating dish, is limited to direct line of sight.
  • These elliptical steel walls prevent direct lines of sight from those screening areas to the office space.

line of vision

Pronunciation: /ˌlʌɪn əv ˈvɪʒ(ə)n/
The straight line along which an observer looks: Jimmy moved forward into Len’s line of vision
More example sentences
  • I awoke with a headache; the sun glinted straight into my line of vision from a gap in the curtains.
  • Emerging from the hallway, viewers found a tiny, ramshackle wooden cabin directly in their line of vision.
  • Mr Smyth says that as you approach the roundabouts in a busy line of traffic, the large road signs which have been erected can block your line of vision.

on the line

1At serious risk: their careers were on the line
More example sentences
  • We have put our careers on the line in order to reveal the facts to the public.
  • He put his job on the line to protect us, and would even risk his life for us.
  • His job as Great Britain coach must be on the line if he fails to beat world champions Australia.
2(Of a picture in an exhibition) hung with its centre about level with the spectator’s eye.

out of line

informal Behaving in a way that breaks the rules or is considered inappropriate: he had never stepped out of line with her before
More example sentences
  • If you break rules, if you step out of line, then obviously you face the consequences.
  • I was boiling with anger and shouted that his behaviour was way out of line.
  • But I think there are possible alternatives to censuring and rebuking those who step out of line.

Phrasal verbs


line out

Baseball Be caught out after hitting a line drive.

line something out

Transplant seedlings from beds into nursery lines, where they are grown before being moved to their permanent position.
Example sentences
  • Once transferred to individual pots, they can be put back in the cold frame or kept in the greenhouse until danger of frost is past when you can line them out in a protected place.
  • He starts with rooted cuttings and lines them out in the field about 30' apart.

line someone/thing up

1Arrange a number of people or things in a straight row: they lined them up and shot them
More example sentences
  • A few other tables were lined up in a perfectly straight row across the room.
  • A group of men were lined up against a wall and mugged as they walked along Dukes Avenue last Friday at about 11.30 pm.
  • The troops were lined up above the water-tanks on the beach.
arrange in a line, arrange in lines, put in rows, arrange in columns;
Military  dress
1.1 (line up) (Of a number of people or things) stand or be arranged in a straight row: we would line up across the parade ground, shoulder to shoulder
More example sentences
  • A queue of about 150 people were lining up to get into a nondescript-looking door.
  • One thing is for sure if Keane wants to continue on playing there will be no shortage of clubs lining up to sign him.
  • Developers are lining up to convert former mills into luxury apartments or build new ones on brownfield sites.
form a queue, form a line, form lines, get into rows/columns, file, queue up, group together, fall in, straighten up;
Military  dress
British informal form a crocodile
2Have someone or something ready or prepared: have you got any work lined up?
More example sentences
  • A host of speakers have been lined up for the forum, which will take place at Bradford City's Bradford & Bingley Stadium, and there will also be themed workshops.
  • Besides the new report, apparently around a hundred witnesses have been lined up to give evidence.
  • Conferences were held, donors were lined up, and money pledged towards the reconstruction effort.
assemble, get together, organize, prepare, arrange, lay on;
get, obtain, procure, secure, produce, come up with, fix up, prearrange;
book, schedule, timetable


Old English līne 'rope, series', probably of Germanic origin, from Latin linea (fibra) 'flax (fibre)', from Latin linum 'flax', reinforced in Middle English by Old French ligne, based on Latin linea.

Words that rhyme with line

align, assign, benign, brine, chine, cline, combine, condign, confine, consign, dine, divine, dyne, enshrine, entwine, fine, frontline, hardline, interline, intertwine, kine, Klein, Main, malign, mine, moline, nine, on-line, opine, outshine, pine, Rhein, Rhine, shine, shrine, sign, sine, spine, spline, stein, Strine, swine, syne, thine, tine, trine, twine, Tyne, underline, undermine, vine, whine, wine

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Line breaks: line

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There are 2 main definitions of line in English:

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line 2

Pronunciation: /lʌɪn/


[with object]
1Cover the inside surface of (a container or garment) with a layer of different material: a basket lined with polythene
More example sentences
  • The bottom of the dress was lined with pink material, and her shoes were pink with purple rhinestones.
  • Inside the bag is lined with black crepe de chine with magenta polka dots.
  • Inside, the drawer was lined with dusty pink lining paper.
1.1Form a layer on the inside surface of (an area); cover as if with a lining: hundreds of telegrams lined the walls
More example sentences
  • It strikes the synovium, the thin layer of tissue lining the area of a joint where two bones meet.
  • There are so many records and CDs lining the living room walls that it looks as if they are embedded into the foundations.
  • The cells line an area of human lungs that helps our bodies absorb oxygen and shed carbon dioxide.



line one's pocket

informal Make money, especially by dishonest means: he had lined his pockets with office and campaign funds
More example sentences
  • Swear to God, and bet on it - he is somehow lining his pocket over this deal.
  • He is as guilty as other DJ's of using his privileged position to promote acts that will line his pocket.
  • No, he's lining his pocket with contributions from commercial logging interests.
make money;
accept bribes;
embezzle money, siphon off money
informal feather one's nest, graft, be on the make, be on the take

line one's stomach

informal Eat some food in preparation for a drinking session: it’s always best to line the stomach before a night out
More example sentences
  • Cox had said in advance that we should go down the pub, so I resolved to line my stomach.
  • I have a yoghurt at the start of the meal to line my stomach.
  • All this and a selection of tasty tapas dishes to line your stomach with early on.


Late Middle English: from obsolete line 'flax', with reference to the common use of linen for linings.

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Line breaks: line

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