The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Line \Line\, n. [OE. line, AS. l[imac]ne cable, hawser, prob.
from L. linea a linen thread, string, line, fr. linum flax,
thread, linen, cable; but the English word was influenced by
F. ligne line, from the same L. word linea. See Linen.]
1. A linen thread or string; a slender, strong cord; also, a
cord of any thickness; a rope; a hawser; as, a fishing
line; a line for snaring birds; a clothesline; a towline.
Who so layeth lines for to latch fowls. --Piers
2. A more or less threadlike mark of pen, pencil, or graver;
any long mark; as, a chalk line.
3. The course followed by anything in motion; hence, a road
or route; as, the arrow descended in a curved line; the
place is remote from lines of travel.
4. Direction; as, the line of sight or vision.
5. A row of letters, words, etc., written or printed; esp., a
row of words extending across a page or column.
6. A short letter; a note; as, a line from a friend.
7. (Poet.) A verse, or the words which form a certain number
of feet, according to the measure.
In the preceding line Ulysses speaks of Nausicaa.
8. Course of conduct, thought, occupation, or policy; method
of argument; department of industry, trade, or
He is uncommonly powerful in his own line, but it is
not the line of a first-rate man. --Coleridge.
9. (Math.) That which has length, but not breadth or
10. The exterior limit of a figure, plat, or territory;
boundary; contour; outline.
Eden stretched her line
From Auran eastward to the royal towers
Of great Seleucia. --Milton.
11. A threadlike crease marking the face or the hand; hence,
Though on his brow were graven lines austere.
He tipples palmistry, and dines
On all her fortune-telling lines. --Cleveland.
12. Lineament; feature; figure. "The lines of my boy's face."
13. A straight row; a continued series or rank; as, a line of
houses, or of soldiers; a line of barriers.
Unite thy forces and attack their lines. --Dryden.
14. A series or succession of ancestors or descendants of a
given person; a family or race; as, the ascending or
descending line; the line of descent; the male line; a
line of kings.
Of his lineage am I, and his offspring
By very line, as of the stock real. --Chaucer.
15. A connected series of public conveyances, and hence, an
established arrangement for forwarding merchandise, etc.;
as, a line of stages; an express line.
(a) A circle of latitude or of longitude, as represented
on a map.
(b) The equator; -- usually called the line, or
equinoctial line; as, to cross the line.
17. A long tape, or a narrow ribbon of steel, etc., marked
with subdivisions, as feet and inches, for measuring; a
(a) A measuring line or cord.
He marketh it out with a line. --Is. xliv.
(b) That which was measured by a line, as a field or any
piece of land set apart; hence, allotted place of
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant
places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. --Ps.
(c) Instruction; doctrine.
Their line is gone out through all the earth.
--Ps. xix. 4.
19. (Mach.) The proper relative position or adjustment of
parts, not as to design or proportion, but with reference
to smooth working; as, the engine is in line or out of
20. The track and roadbed of a railway; railroad.
(a) A row of men who are abreast of one another, whether
side by side or some distance apart; -- opposed to
(b) The regular infantry of an army, as distinguished
from militia, guards, volunteer corps, cavalry,
(a) A trench or rampart.
(b) pl. Dispositions made to cover extended positions,
and presenting a front in but one direction to an
23. pl. (Shipbuilding) Form of a vessel as shown by the
outlines of vertical, horizontal, and oblique sections.
24. (Mus.) One of the straight horizontal and parallel
prolonged strokes on and between which the notes are
25. (Stock Exchange) A number of shares taken by a jobber.
26. (Trade) A series of various qualities and values of the
same general class of articles; as, a full line of
hosiery; a line of merinos, etc. --McElrath.
27. The wire connecting one telegraphic station with another,
or the whole of a system of telegraph wires under one
management and name.
28. pl. The reins with which a horse is guided by his driver.
29. A measure of length; one twelfth of an inch.
Hard lines, hard lot. --C. Kingsley. [See Def. 18.]
Line breeding (Stockbreeding), breeding by a certain family
line of descent, especially in the selection of the dam or
Line conch (Zool.), a spiral marine shell (Fasciolaria
distans), of Florida and the West Indies. It is marked by
narrow, dark, revolving lines.
(a) Engraving in which the effects are produced by lines
of different width and closeness, cut with the burin
upon copper or similar material; also, a plate so
(b) A picture produced by printing from such an
Line of battle.
(a) (Mil. Tactics) The position of troops drawn up in
their usual order without any determined maneuver.
(b) (Naval) The line or arrangement formed by vessels of
war in an engagement.
Line of battle ship. See Ship of the line, below.
Line of beauty (Fine Arts),an abstract line supposed to be
beautiful in itself and absolutely; -- differently
represented by different authors, often as a kind of
elongated S (like the one drawn by Hogarth).
Line of centers. (Mach.)
(a) A line joining two centers, or fulcra, as of wheels
(b) A line which determines a dead center. See Dead
center, under Dead.
Line of dip (Geol.), a line in the plane of a stratum, or
part of a stratum, perpendicular to its intersection with
a horizontal plane; the line of greatest inclination of a
stratum to the horizon.
Line of fire (Mil.), the direction of fire.
Line of force (Physics), any line in a space in which
forces are acting, so drawn that at every point of the
line its tangent is the direction of the resultant of all
the forces. It cuts at right angles every equipotential
surface which it meets. Specifically (Magnetism), a line
in proximity to a magnet so drawn that any point in it is
tangential with the direction of a short compass needle
held at that point. --Faraday.
Line of life (Palmistry), a line on the inside of the hand,
curving about the base of the thumb, supposed to indicate,
by its form or position, the length of a person's life.
Line of lines. See Gunter's line.
Line of march. (Mil.)
(a) Arrangement of troops for marching.
(b) Course or direction taken by an army or body of
troops in marching.
Line of operations, that portion of a theater of war which
an army passes over in attaining its object. --H. W.
Line of sight (Firearms), the line which passes through the
front and rear sight, at any elevation, when they are
sighted at an object.
Line tub (Naut.), a tub in which the line carried by a
whaleboat is coiled.
Mason and Dixon's line, Mason-Dixon line, the boundary
line between Pennsylvania and Maryland, as run before the
Revolution (1764-1767) by two English astronomers named
Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. In an extended sense,
the line between the free and the slave States; as, below
the Mason-Dixon line, i.e. in the South.
On the line,
(a) on a level with the eye of the spectator; -- said of
a picture, as hung in an exhibition of pictures.
(b) at risk (dependent upon success) in a contest or
enterprise; as, the survival of the company is on the
line in this project.
Right line, a straight line; the shortest line that can be
drawn between two points.
Ship of the line, formerly, a ship of war large enough to
have a place in the line of battle; a vessel superior to a
frigate; usually, a seventy-four, or three-decker; --
called also line of battle ship or battleship.
To cross the line, to cross the equator, as a vessel at
To give a person line, to allow him more or less liberty
until it is convenient to stop or check him, like a hooked
fish that swims away with the line.
Water line (Shipbuilding), the outline of a horizontal
section of a vessel, as when floating in the water.