[rach-it] /ˈrætʃ ɪt/

a toothed bar with which a pawl engages.
(not in technical use) a pawl or the like used with a ratchet or .
a mechanism consisting of such a bar or wheel with the pawl.
a steady progression up or down:
the upward ratchet of oil prices.
verb (used with or without object)
to move by degrees (often followed by up or down):
to ratchet prices up; Interest rates have been ratcheting downward.
a device in which a toothed rack or wheel is engaged by a pawl to permit motion in one direction only
the toothed rack or wheel forming part of such a device
to operate using a ratchet
usually foll by up or down. to increase or decrease, esp irreversibly: electricity prices will ratchet up this year, Hitchcock ratchets up the tension once again

moved in segments with a clicking sound

He bought a ratcheting pruner for the trees.

the increasing or decreasing of an action in segments; incremental change

The rivalry has been ratcheting up for years.
Word Origin

by 1941

1650s, rochet, from French rochet “bobbin, spindle,” from Italian rocchetto “spool, ratchet,” diminutive of rocca “distaff,” possibly from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German rocko “distaff,” Old Norse rokkr), from Proto-Germanic *rukka-, from PIE root *ruk- “fabric, spun yarn.” Cf. rocket (n.2). Current spelling in English dates from 1721, influenced by synonymous ratch, which perhaps is borrowed from German Rätsche “ratchet.”

1852, from ratchet (n.). Transferred sense attested by 1977. Related: Ratcheted; ratcheting.


To change by increments in one direction: Gold had ratcheted down to 385

[1977+; fr the ratchet action of a winch or of a wrench, where an increasing pressure, torque, pull, etc, is registered by the clicking of a pawl on a gear wheel]


Read Also:

  • Ratchet-mouth

    noun Apersonwho is constantly talking; motor-mouth [1970s+; perhaps because a ratchet wrench can be operated without pause and makes a constant rapid rasping, clacking noise]

  • Ratchet-wheel

    noun 1. a wheel, with teeth on the edge, into which a pawl drops or catches, as to prevent reversal of motion or convert reciprocating motion into rotatory motion.

  • Rat-claw-foot

    noun, Furniture. 1. an elongated foot having the form of a thin claw grasping a ball.

  • Rate

    [reyt] /reɪt/ noun 1. the amount of a charge or payment with reference to some basis of calculation: a high rate of interest on loans. 2. a certain quantity or amount of one thing considered in relation to a unit of another thing and used as a standard or measure: at the rate of 60 […]

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