/ laɪn; NAmE / noun , verb
LONG THIN MARK
[ C ] a long thin mark on a surface :
a straight / wavy / dotted / diagonal line
a vertical / horizontal line
Draw a thick black line across the page.
[ C ] a long thin mark on the ground to show the limit or border of sth, especially of a playing area in some sports :
The ball went over the line .
Be careful not to cross the line (= the broken line painted down the middle of the road) .
Your feet must be behind the line when you serve (= in tennis ) .
They were all waiting on the starting line .
—see also finishing line , goal line , sideline , touchline
[ C ] a mark like a line on sb's skin that people usually get as they get older
SYN wrinkle :
He has fine lines around his eyes.
[ C ] an imaginary limit or border between one place or thing and another :
He was convicted of illegally importing weapons across state lines .
a district / county line
lines of longitude and latitude
—see also coastline , dateline , dividing line , picket line , treeline , waterline ➡ note at border
[ C ] the division between one area of thought or behaviour and another :
We want to cut across lines of race, sex and religion.
There is a fine line between showing interest in what someone is doing and interfering in it.
—see also red line
[ C ] the edge, outline or shape of sb/sth :
He traced the line of her jaw with his finger.
a beautiful sports car with sleek lines
—see also bikini line
ROW OF PEOPLE / THINGS
[ C ] a row of people or things next to each other or behind each other :
a long line of trees
The children all stood in a line .
They were stuck in a line of traffic.
[ C ] ( NAmE ) a queue of people :
to stand / wait in line for sth
A line formed at each teller window.
[ C ] a system of making sth, in which the product moves from one worker to the next until it is finished
—see also assembly line , production line
[ C , usually sing. ] a series of people, things or events that follow one another in time :
She came from a long line of doctors.
to pass sth down through the male / female line
This novel is the latest of a long line of thrillers that he has written.
[ C , usually sing. ] a series of people in order of importance :
Orders came down the line from the very top.
a line of command
He is second in line to the chairman.
to be next in line to the throne
—see also line manager
[ C ] ( abbr. l ) a row of words on a page or the empty space where they can be written; the words of a song or poem :
Look at line 5 of the text.
Write the title of your essay on the top line.
I can only remember the first two lines of that song.
—see also bottom line
[ C ] the words spoken by an actor in a play or film / movie :
to learn your lines
a line from the film 'Casablanca'
lines [ pl. ] ( BrE ) (in some schools) a punishment in which a child has to write out a particular sentence a number of times
[ C ] ( informal ) a remark, especially when sb says it to achieve a particular purpose :
Don't give me that line about having to work late again.
( BrE )
That's the worst chat-up line I've ever heard.
ROPE / WIRE / PIPE
[ C ] a long piece of rope, thread, etc., especially when it is used for a particular purpose :
a fishing line
He hung the towels out on the line (= clothes line) .
They dropped the sails and threw a line to a man on the dock.
—see also lifeline
[ C ] a pipe or thick wire that carries water, gas or electricity from one place to another
—see also power line
[ C ] a telephone connection; a particular telephone number :
Your bill includes line rental.
The company's lines have been jammed (= busy) all day with people making complaints.
I was talking to John when the line suddenly went dead .
If you hold the line (= stay on the telephone and wait) , I'll see if she is available.
—see also helpline , hotline , landline , offline , online
RAILWAY / RAILROAD
[ C ] a railway / railroad track; a section of a railway / railroad system :
The train was delayed because a tree had fallen across the line.
a branch line
the East Coast line
—see also main line
ROUTE / DIRECTION
[ C , usually sing. ] the direction that sb/sth is moving or located in :
Just keep going in a straight line ; you can't miss it.
The town is in a direct line between London and the coast.
Please move; you're right in my line of vision (= the direction I am looking in) .
They followed the line of the river for three miles.
Be careful to stay out of the line of fire (= the direction sb is shooting in) .
[ C ] a route from one place to another especially when it is used for a particular purpose :
Their aim was to block guerrilla supply lines .
ATTITUDE / ARGUMENT
[ C , usually sing. ] an attitude or a belief, especially one that sb states publicly :
The government is taking a firm line on terrorism.
He supported the official line on education.
—see also hard line , party line
[ C ] a method or way of doing or thinking about sth :
I don't follow your line of reasoning .
She decided to try a different line of argument (= way of persuading sb of sth) .
sb's first line of attack / defence
The police are pursuing a new line of enquiry / inquiry (= way of finding out information) .
[ sing. ] a type or area of business, activity or interest :
My line of work pays pretty well.
You can't do much in the art line without training.
—see also sideline
[ C ] a type of product :
We are starting a new line in casual clothes.
Some lines sell better than others.
[ C ] (often used in names) a company that provides transport for people or goods :
a shipping / bus line
—see also airline
[ C ] a row or series of military defences where the soldiers are fighting during a war :
The regiment was sent to fight in the front line (= the position nearest the enemy) .
They were trapped behind enemy lines (= in the area controlled by the enemy) .
[ C ] ( slang ) an amount of cocaine that is spread out in a thin line, ready to take
- along / down the line
- along / on (the) ... lines
- be, come, etc. on line
- bring sb/sth, come, get, fall, etc. into line (with sb/sth)
- in (a) line (with sth)
- in line for sth
- in the line of duty
- in line with sth
- lay it on the line
- (choose, follow, take, etc.) the line of least resistance
- (put sth) on the line
- out of line (with sb/sth)
- walk / tread a fine / thin line
—more at battle noun , draw verb , end noun , firing line , front line , hard adjective , hook noun , jump verb , overstep , pitch verb , read verb , sign verb , step verb , toe verb
[ vn ]
[ often passive ] line sth (with sth) to cover the inside of sth with a layer of another material to keep it clean, make it stronger, etc. :
Line the pan with greaseproof paper.
to form a layer on the inside of sth :
the membranes that line the nose
[ often passive ] line sth (with sth) to form lines or rows along sth :
Crowds of people lined the streets to watch the race.
The walls were lined with books.
—see also lined
- line your (own) / sb's pockets
- line up
- line sb/sth up
- line sth up (with sth)
verb sense 3 and noun Old English līne rope, series , probably of Germanic origin, from Latin linea (fibra) flax (fibre), from Latin linum flax, reinforced in Middle English by Old French ligne , based on Latin linea .
verb senses 1 to 2 late Middle English : from obsolete line flax , with reference to the common use of linen for linings.