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To learn the ropes

Posted by A. Kohler on June 30, 2005

Re the origin of "to learn the ropes": I've been told that seamen use only the word "lines"; only landlubbers in their ignorance use the word "ropes."
If that's true, then the phrase should be "to learn the lines." But it isn't.
How did the phrase become "to learn the ropes" instead of "to learn the lines"?