any of the small, relatively thin pieces of tarred rope which join the shrouds of a ship and serve as the steps of a ladder for climbing the rigging
also sp. rat′lin
Origin of ratlinealtered by folk etymology from Late Middle English ratling, radeling from uncertain or unknown; perhaps
- Any of the small ropes fastened horizontally to the shrouds of a ship and forming a ladder for going aloft.
- The material used for these ropes.
Origin of ratlineAlteration ( perhaps influenced by rat with reference to ships' rats ) of Middle English ratheling in ratheling line thin cordage used for ratlines from Middle English rathelen to entwine probably from alteration of Middle English raddle stick, wattle, hurdle woven from wattle perhaps from Anglo-Norman ridele, redele rail on the side of a cart probably of Germanic origin and akin to Middle High German reitel, reidel toggle, turning handle Old High German rīdan to turn, wind and Old English wrīthan to writhe ; see writhe .