Definition of ratchet in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ratchets on the extractor more perfectly engage the new cylinder hand, which was mated with it.’
    • ‘The gears worked smoothly, to the minor accompaniment of the ratchet clicking and the links passing over the drive sprocket.’
    • ‘To unscrew the casing is to throw open such a Pandora's Box of nuts and springs, axles, ratchets and governors as to confound all attempts to recapture them.’
    • ‘From the off position, the parking brake took six notches of its ratchet to be fully on.’
    • ‘Surface marker buoy reels tend to work on some form of ratchet system that only allows line out when the ratchet is released.’
    • ‘Examples of IVA tools are various sizes of wrenches and sockets, hexagonal, Phillips, and torque head drivers, pliers, and ratchets.’
    • ‘Instantaneously, she grabbed the ratchet and started to work, stripping the cover to the engine exhaust.’
    • ‘To fill the void, I've been watching Monster Garage and Junkyard Wars, both of which are like Iron Chef with power tools & ratchets.’
    • ‘Evolutionary software has already designed simple circuits, as well as physical mechanisms like the ratchet and cantilever.’
    • ‘The idea is that you randomly press down one tooth at a time. One of the teeth - and it changes each time - will cause the jaws to close with the crunch of a spring-loaded ratchet.’
    • ‘The hand keeps pressing against the ratchet as the hammer continues rearward.’
    • ‘An adjustable ratchet, which neither reel has but which the tensioners might help simulate, would of course give you the best of both worlds.’
    prong, point, tine, cog, ratchet, sprocket
    1. 1.1A bar or wheel that forms part of a ratchet.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The teeth of the ratchet aren't sufficiently large or strong to hold the center channel speaker if the unit gets bumped or moved.’
      • ‘They calculated that the electric potential inside the pore was asymmetric, shaped like a ratchet's tooth.’
  • 2A situation or process that is perceived to be changing in a series of irreversible steps.

    ‘the upward ratchet of property taxes’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It means working with governments to encourage greater transparency in financial flows so that investment becomes a ratchet for wider economic development.’
    • ‘It's only in the down time that we recognize the one-way ratchet of adding to the cost of doing business.’
    • ‘Under the regime of fiat currency these ratchets are irresistible as they are powered and amplified by speculation.’
    • ‘The occasional tweak of the regulatory ratchet is as much as we can get these days - precisely because people like you and me have persuaded too few voters to give these issues the overarching significance they deserve.’
    • ‘When this accessory protein interaction is defined so that it acts as a ratchet, backward slippage can be prevented with minimal interference with forward progression.’
    • ‘Microsoft gains muscle from this process, so it can tighten the ratchets, and so on.’
    • ‘The growth of mammoth government interventions tends to be a one-way ratchet.’
    • ‘Think of yourself as a ratchet: once you gain an inch of territory you refuse to give it back.’
    • ‘The one historic reversal of this ratchet was Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut, which increased revenue through economic growth.’
    • ‘And another downward ratchet in wages would just about guarantee it will get worse.’
    • ‘The ratchet will move further in the direction of control at the expense of liberty.’
    • ‘To see more clearly how the ratchet works, consider an even simpler modelýan economy pared down to just two participants.’

verbratchets, 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In particular, prey is transported into and through the mouth via independent ratcheting movements of the upper jaws.’
    • ‘If the water is real deep, try ratcheting your pedals by doing quarter pedal strokes.’
    • ‘It kinks, detaches itself from actin, unkinks, and reattaches, and thereby ratchets along the actin filament in a series of power strokes.’
  • 2ratchet something up/downCause 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Obviously, the death threat ratchets up the tension, but it's not really all that palpable.’
    • ‘The home-improvement giant ratchets up growth - by moving past the lumberyard look’
    • ‘Earnings will dip as investment in 3G ratchets up.’
    • ‘In this case, the geography of industrial organization ratchets up a sequence of scales from local to regional to national, and ultimately to global.’
    • ‘Supplying materials for new driveways and patios has helped the firm ratchet up 13% per annum dividend growth since 1997.’
    • ‘But if the U.S. ratchets up the pressure with more protectionist moves, Beijing may retaliate with higher tariffs of its own.’
    • ‘More important, it gives him a chance to quickly ratchet up profits by merging the back office and cutting the workforce.’
    • ‘In this sense, the murder of Browne ratchets up the deepening shadows around the state/loyalist paramilitary linkage.’
    • ‘But as rates rise sharply and home price increases ratchet down, the flow of cash from housing equity is sure to slow in the coming year.’
    • ‘In future, oil producers will need to continually ratchet up oil prices to make it viable for new sources of ‘more expensive’ oil to be extracted.’
    • ‘Grantham, always publicly self-deprecating, ratchets up flippancy to reckless levels when commenting on his youngest son.’
    • ‘Once we're into the second hour, Pollack ratchets up the pace a few notches and we notice a quickening of the pulse.’
    • ‘In short, if you're a fan of the series to date, this volume delivers more of the same, advances the overall plot, and ratchets up the tempo a notch.’
    • ‘The Fed's Open Market Committee expected to once again ratchet up interest rates by a quarter point when it meets on Tuesday.’
    • ‘The purpose of the referendum is to further ratchet down our interests,’ said Phillip.’
    • ‘All they do is ratchet up a crisis, get more free stuff, sign papers that mean nothing to them, keep on doing the illegal war stuff, and start the cycle all over again.’
    • ‘Was this piece of paper reason to stop talking completely and ratchet up the rhetoric?’
    • ‘They were thrilled to proceed with merger mania and ratchet up already-humongous profits.’


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’.