phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

The ropes

Posted by Lewis on June 23, 2003

In Reply to: Show you the ropes posted by Bruce Kahl on June 23, 2003

: : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase 'I'll show you the ropes'... ie. to show someone the basics/how something is done. Methinks it's a nautical term originally, but where from? Any suggestions?

: : Cheers peeps.

: : Kit

: Not 100% on this but I think it has to do with showbusiness, with the ropes being used by stagehands to open and close curtains, lower props etc.
: So if I am to "show you the ropes" then you are in training to learn a skill.

hey - why not go back to the builders of the pyramids on this one? they would have used ropes which could be shown to new tuggers and pullers.

The difference with saying that it was from seamanship, is that the ropes on a ship have different names and purposes - so a new seaman really did need to be shown the ropes - to know which one to pull when ordered. I favour a nautical origin, as it wuld have preceded stage management by a few millennia.