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learn the ropes

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

For example:

  • Ruth will teach you what to do, and it shouldn't take you too long to learn the ropes.

  • It can take quite a while for a new lawyer to learn the ropes in a big legal firm.

Note: See also "know 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 was learning all this was said to be "learning the ropes".

Quick Quiz:

Eric is still learning the ropes, so we
  1. can make him manager
  2. can't make him manager
  3. should make him manager

Discuss: learn the ropes

Idiom of the Day

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