know the ropes

This page is about the idiom 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

a. first made them

b. first used them

c. first worked here

Idiom of the Day

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Contributor: Matt Errey