American English

Definition of line noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    long thin mark
  1. 1[countable] a long thin mark on a surface a straight/wavy/dotted/diagonal line a vertical/horizontal line parallel lines Draw a thick black line across the page.
  2. 2[countable] a long thin mark on the ground to show the limit or border of something, 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 finish line, goal line, sideline, touchline
  3. 3[countable] a mark like a line on someone's skin that people usually get as they get older synonym wrinkle He has fine lines around his eyes.
  4. division
  5. 4[countable] 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, Date Line, dividing line, picket line, treeline, waterline
  6. 5[countable] the division between one area of thought or behavior 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.
  7. shape
  8. 6[countable] the edge, outline, or shape of someone or something He traced the line of her jaw with his finger. a beautiful sports car with sleek lines see also bikini line
  9. row of people/things
  10. 7[countable] a row of people or things next to each other or behind each other to stand/wait in line for something A line formed at each ticket window. There’s no need to cut in line (= push in front of people standing in a line), as there are plenty of seats for everyone. The children all stood in a line. a long line of trees They were stuck in a line of traffic.
  11. in factory
  12. 8[countable] a system of making something, in which the product moves from one worker to the next until it is finished see also assembly line, production line
  13. series
  14. 9[countable, usually singular] a series of people, things, or events that follow one another in time She came from a long line of doctors. to pass something down through the male/female line This novel is the latest of a long line of thrillers that he has written. That was the first in a whole line of mistakes and bad decisions.
  15. 10[countable, usually singular] 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
  16. words
  17. 11[countable] (abbreviation 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
  18. 12[countable] the words spoken by an actor in a play or movie to learn your lines a line from the movie “Casablanca”
  19. 13[countable] (informal) a remark, especially when someone says it to achieve a particular purpose Don't give me that line about having to work late again.
  20. rope/wire/pipe
  21. 14[countable] 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 (= clothesline). They dropped the sails and threw a line to a man on the dock. see also lifeline
  22. 15[countable] a pipe or thick wire that carries water, gas, or electricity from one place to another see also power line
  23. telephone
  24. 16[countable] 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. see also helpline, hotline, landline, offline, online
  25. railroad
  26. 17[countable] a railroad track; a section of a railroad system The train was delayed because a tree had fallen across the line. a branch line the northeastern line see also main line
  27. route/direction
  28. 18[countable, usually singular] the direction that someone or something 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 here 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 someone is shooting in).
  29. 19[countable] a route from one place to another especially when it is used for a particular purpose Their aim was to block guerrilla supply lines.
  30. attitude/argument
  31. 20[countable, usually singular] an attitude or a belief, especially one that someone states publicly The government is taking a firm line on terrorism. He supported the official line on education. see also hard line, party line1
  32. 21[countable] a method or way of doing or thinking about something I don't follow your line of reasoning. She decided to try a different line of argument (= way of persuading someone of something). someone's first line of attack/defense The police are pursuing a new line of questioning (= way of finding out information).
  33. activity
  34. 22[singular] a type or area of business, activity, or interest My line of work pays pretty well. What line of business are you in? see also sideline
  35. product
  36. 23[countable] a type of product We are starting a new line in casual clothes. Some lines sell better than others. see also top of the line
  37. transportation
  38. 24[countable] (often used in names) a company that provides transporation for people or goods a shipping/bus line see also airline
  39. soldiers
  40. 25[countable] a row or series of military defenses 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).
  41. Idioms
    along/down the line (informal)
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    at some point during an activity or a process Somewhere along the line a large amount of money was stolen. We'll make a decision on that further down the line.
      along/on (the)… lines
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    1. 1(informal) in the way that is mentioned The new system will operate along the same lines as the old one. They voted along class lines.
    2. 2(informal) similar to the way or thing that is mentioned Those aren't his exact words, but he said something along those lines. The hotel was built along the lines of a French chateau.
    the battle lines are drawn
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    used to say that people or groups have shown which side they intend to support in an argument or contest that is going to begin
      be on the firing line
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    1. 1to be in a position where you can be shot at attempts to prevent civilians from being on the firing line
    2. 2to be in a position where people can criticize or blame you The labor secretary found himself on the firing line over recent job cuts.
    bring somebody/something, come, get, fall, etc. into line (with somebody/something)
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    to behave or make someone or something behave in the same way as other people or how they should behave Other politicians fell into line behind the president in support of the war.
    (reach) the end of the line/road
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    (to reach) the point at which something can no longer continue in the same way A defeat in the second round marked the end of the line for last year's champion.
    hold the line (against/on something)
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    to keep something at a particular level and not allow any more increases or changes Foreign auto makers will try to hold the line on prices to maintain U.S. market share.
    hook, line, and sinker
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    completely What I said wasn't true, but he fell for it (= believed it) hook, line, and sinker.
    in (a) line (with something)
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    in a position that forms a straight line with something An eclipse happens when the earth and moon are in line with the sun.
    in line for something
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    likely to get something She is in line for promotion.
    in the line of duty
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    while doing a job A policeman was injured in the line of duty yesterday.
    in line with something
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    similar to something or so that one thing is closely connected with another Annual pay increases will be in line with inflation.
    lay it on the line (informal)
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    to tell someone clearly what you think, especially when they will not like what you say The manager laid it on the line—some people would have to lose their jobs.
    (choose, follow, take, etc.) the line of least resistance
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    (to choose, etc.) the easiest way of doing something
    on the front line (of something)
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    doing work that will have an important effect on something a life spent on the front line of research
    = online
    (put something) on the line (informal)
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    at risk If we don't make a profit, my job is on the line.
      out of line (with somebody/something)
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    1. 1not forming a straight line
    2. 2different from something The prices here are way out of line with the rest of the country.
    3. 3(informal) behaving in a way that is not acceptable or right
    overstep the mark/line
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    to behave in a way that people think is not acceptable She realized she had overstepped the mark and quickly apologized.
    pitch a story/line/yarn (to somebody) (informal)
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    to tell someone a story or make an excuse that is not true
    read between the lines
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    to look for or discover a meaning in something that is not openly stated Reading between the lines, I think Christy needs money.
    read between the lines
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    to look for or discover a meaning in something that is not openly stated Reading between the lines, I think Christy needs money.
    sign on the dotted line (informal)
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    to sign a document to show that you have agreed to buy something or do something Just sign on the dotted line and the car is yours.
    step out of line, be/get out of line
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    to behave badly or break the rules His boss warned him that if he stepped out of line once more he would be fired.
    toe the line/mark
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    to say or do what someone in authority tells you to say or do, even if you do not share the same opinions, etc. One or two of them refused to toe the line. to toe the party line
    walk/tread a fine/thin line
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    to be in a difficult or dangerous situation where you could easily make a mistake He was walking a fine line between being funny and being rude.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: line