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Ratchet Things Up a Notch or Two

Posted by TheFallen on June 04, 2003

In Reply to: Ratchet Things Up a Notch or Two posted by R. Berg on June 04, 2003

: : Hi,

: : What dose this phrase mean?

: : Thanks in advance.

: To increase the amount or intensity of something just a little. (A ratchet mechanism makes physical things change by small steps rather than smoothly and continuously.)

Absolutely. The other main feature of a ratchet is that it is a mechanism based in its most simple form around a rotating toothed cog with one-way tooth (called apparently a pawl) preventing any backwards motion or slippage - it's the teeth in the cog that give rise to the "notch or two" part of the expression. Therefore any intensity or tension added by using a ratchet will not be released - you'd typically use a ratchet mechanism to tighten a long cable or wire.

It's this idea of increasing the pressure or tension in a situation that is at the heart of the idiom.