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know the ropes

Meaning: If you know the ropes, you know how to do a job properly, or you know how things work and how to get things done.

For example:

  • Anyone who's been doing the job for a few months should know the ropes by now.

  • We need someone to teach the new staff. Someone who knows the ropes and is good at explaining things.

Note: See also "learn the ropes".

Origin: Possibly derived from the days of sailing ships when sailors learned how to tie knots and handle ropes that were attached to the sails. A sailor who knew all this was said to "know the ropes".

Quick Quiz:

Mario must know the ropes by now. It's been six months since he
  1. first made them
  2. first used them
  3. first worked here

Discuss: know the ropes

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