learn the ropes


learn the ropes

Meaning | Definition

  • to learn the tricks in order to do something well
  • to be well versed with a craft

Example Sentences

  1. It is important that you learn the ropes and know your father’s business well before you take it over.
  2. The manager had to learn the ropes before she was handed the responsibilities for all of the teams.
  3. I have learnt the ropes and then stepped into politics. So you will not be able to take me down so easily.
  4. Can you first learn the ropes before making comments about how others work?
  5. My father believed that to be successful one must first spend considerable time learning the ropes.
  6. She spent considerable amount of time learning the ropes but I still do not see too much of an improvement.
  7. As a professional, you have to constantly learn the ropes in order to do really well in your career.


The story behind this phrase comes from nomads that did rope tricks and travelled throughout the country in order to make a living. Rope tricks weren’t easy and one would have to know the nuances as well as practice it thoroughly so that the performance is flawless and without any accidents. The phrase hence stuck on for anything that a person could perfect by learning and practicing.


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Seems like most other reference sources pin the origin of "learn the ropes" to sailing ships.

- Tom Sadowski October 15, 2019

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