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. ratlin
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 ratlineMiddle English rathelinge (line), wattling, ratline (cord).
- (nautical) Any of the cross ropes between the shrouds, which form a net like ropework, allowing sailors to climb up towards the top of the mast.
- 1980: That meant it was not possible to use ratlines -- that is, to make rope ladders out of the shrouds by adding small connecting pieces of ropes. — Richard W. Unger, The Ship in the Medieval Economy 600-1600, page 34.