since 1997, the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

learn the ropes

This page is about the idiom 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.

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

a. can make him manager

b. can't make him manager

c. should make him manager

Idiom of the Day

This entry is in the following categories:

Contributor: Matt Errey