Definition of ratchet up phrasal verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

 

ratchet up

 phrasal verb
phrasal verb
 
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Phrasal Verbs

ratchet (something)up

 
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to increase, or make something increase, repeatedly and by small amounts Overuse of credit cards has ratcheted up consumer debt to unacceptable levels.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: ratchet up