Meaning of “line” in the English Dictionary

"line" in British English

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uk /laɪn/ us /laɪn/

line noun (LONG MARK)

A2 [ C ] a long, thin mark on the surface of something:

a straight line
Sign your name on the dotted line.
She was very old and her face was covered with lines.
My legs felt all wobbly when I stood up and I couldn't walk in a straight line (= walk without moving to the side while moving forward).

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line noun (ROW)

C2 [ C ] a group of people or things arranged in a row:

a line of trees
The prisoners formed a line against the wall.

[ C ] US UK queue a group of people standing one behind the other who are waiting for something:

Just get in line and wait your turn like everyone else.
I had to wait/stand in line for three hours to get tickets.
a long line of

a series of people or things that follow each other in time:

She is the latest in a long line of controversial leaders.
He comes from a long line of doctors (= a lot of his relatives were doctors before him).

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line noun (DIVISION)

C2 [ C ] a long, thin and sometimes imaginary mark that forms the edge, border, or limit of something:

That ball was definitely in! It was nowhere near the line!
The police couldn't arrest him because he'd fled across the state line.
For many television viewers the dividing line between fact and fiction is becoming increasingly blurred.

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line noun (PHONE)

B2 [ C ] a connection to a phone system:

I'm afraid your line's been disconnected because your last bill hasn't been paid.
If you want to air your opinions live on the radio, the lines will be open (= you can phone) from eight o'clock.
I've got Chris Foster on the line for you. Do you want to take it now or call her back later?
formal Please hold the line (= wait). I'll see if she's available.

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line noun (RAILWAY)

B1 [ C ] (the route followed by) a railway track:

The train was delayed, apparently due to leaves on the line.
The Northern Line is the worst on the London Underground.
Mainline services can be very quick, but travelling on the branch lines is much slower.

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C2 [ C ] a way of dealing with or thinking about something or someone:

The government's official line has always been to refuse to negotiate with terrorists.
The courts should take a tougher line with (= punish more severely) sex offenders.
Several Labour MPs disagree with their party's line on taxation.
What sort of line (= method of arguing) do you think we should take in the pay negotiations?
The police are confident that this new line of inquiry will lead them to the murderer.
It seems inevitable that the country will be divided along ethnic lines.
line of reasoning, thinking, etc.

C2 a way of thinking about a particular subject:

We cannot agree with their line of reasoning.

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line noun (MILITARY)

C2 [ C ] a row of positions used to defend against enemy attack, especially the ones closest to enemy positions:

They were taken prisoner while on a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines.
figurative In a game of football, the goalkeeper is the last line of defence.

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line noun (WORDS)

B1 [ C ] a row of words that form part of a text:

We could get more lines on the page if we reduced the type size.

[ C usually plural ] the words that an actor speaks when performing in a film, play, etc.:

I only had two lines in the whole play.
She hasn't learned her lines yet, and we've got our first rehearsal tomorrow.
I'm terrified of forgetting my lines.
lines [ plural ] UK

a punishment for school students in which a sentence has to be written repeatedly:

She got 200 lines for swearing at her teacher.

line noun (JOB)

[ C usually singular ] the type of job someone does:

"What line of work are you in?" "I'm a teacher."
You meet some very interesting people in my line of business.

lineverb [ T ]

uk /laɪn/ us /laɪn/

(Definition of “line” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"line" in American English

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us /lɑɪn/

line noun (LONG MARK)

[ C ] a long, thin mark on the surface of something:

Draw a straight line.
You shouldn’t drive across the double yellow lines.
As I grow older, lines and wrinkles show on my face.

geometry [ C ] A line is a row of points that continues in both directions and is usually represented by a long thin mark.

line noun (EDGE)

[ C ] a real or imaginary mark that forms the edge, border, or limit of something:

The police caught him before he crossed the state line.

[ C ] A line is also a mark on a sports field which shows where things can or cannot happen, or which measures the field:

the foul line
the 50-yard line
the free-throw line

line noun (STRING)

[ C ] a length of string, rope, or wire that is used to support something:

fishing line
Would you help me hang the wash out on the line?

line noun (ROW)

[ C ] a row of people or things:

There was a long line at the movie theater.
Just get in/on line and wait your turn.

[ C ] In football, the lines are the two front rows of opposing players who face one another at the start of a play:

line noun (SERIES)

[ C usually sing ] a series of people, esp. members of the same family, following one another in time:

He comes from a long line of doctors.

line noun (MILITARY)

[ C ] a row of military positions, particularly the ones closest to enemy positions:

the front line
behind enemy lines


[ C ] an electrical or telephone wire or connection:

Power lines were down after the storm.
That line is busy – may I take a message?

line noun (PIPE)

[ C ] a system of pipes:

a water/gas line

line noun (RAILROAD)

line noun (COMPANY)

[ C ] a company that has an organized system of transport by ship, truck, aircraft, or bus:

a shipping line

line noun (WORDS)

[ C ] a row of words that form part of a text:

Limericks are humorous five-line poems.

[ C ] A line is also a short written message:

Drop me a line when you get a chance.

[ C ] A line is also a remark that is intended to amuse, persuade, or deceive:

He gave me some line about how his father is the mayor.

[ C ] Lines are also the words that actors speak when performing.

line noun (DIRECTION)

[ C usually sing ] a direction or path:

Fortunately, the pedestrian wasn’t in the line of fire.

line noun (WAY OF DEALING)

[ C ] a way of dealing with or thinking about something or someone:

I couldn’t follow his line of reasoning.

line noun (JOB)

[ C ] a job, interest, or activity:

"What line of work are you in?" "I’m a teacher."

line noun (GOODS)

[ C ] a type of goods:

Our new swimwear line will be in stores shortly.

lineverb [ T ]

us /lɑɪn/

line verb [ T ] (COVER)

to cover the inside surface of an object with another material:

I lined the kitchen cabinets with shelf paper.

(Definition of “line” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"line" in Business English

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linenoun [ C ]

uk /laɪn/ us

COMMERCE a range of similar products:

There are discounts on many items from our older lines.
As with other books in this publisher's line, this one is written for a popular audience.
I showed them all our new product lines.
line of sth The company's spring line of handbags is wonderful.
lines of bonds/stocks/shares The state is selling three lines of bonds.

PRODUCTION a system of making goods in which a worker repeatedly does the same tasks on every item and then passes it to the next worker:

The first year they had me on the line putting wheels on Cadillacs.
assembly/processing/production line Eight additional production lines were installed in the town's only factory.

COMMUNICATIONS a connection to a telephone or data system:

I'm afraid your phone line has been disconnected.
The company's first fibre-optic lines were installed in 1998.
Keep the lines open in case the boss calls with a final decision.
on the line Mike Saunders is on the line for you.

a connection to a public service for water, liquid waste, or electricity:

Power transmission lines were out for three weeks after the hurricane.
Interference from the electric lines caused the equipment to malfunction.
Construction workers installed a water line where Walnut Avenue and First Street intersect.

a series of people that follow each other in time:

He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs.

a series of people in order of importance:

the first/second, etc. in line He is second in line to take over the company.

someone's job, industry, or area of activity:

"What line of work are you in?" "I'm a professor."
You meet some very interesting people in my line of business.

BANKING a way of getting money:

line of credit/revenue Your bank can raise your line of credit if you have a good payment history.

a group of people or things arranged in a row:

march/stand/wait in line If you don't like standing in line, do your part to make sure you're an efficient customer.

TRANSPORT a company that transports people or goods:

a railway/shipping line The shipping line carried fewer containers last year
bring sth into line (with sth)

to make something the same as or similar to something else:

He'd like to bring the pay of an Army private into line with that of a police constable.
come/get/fall into line

to start to officially agree with a plan or idea or to do something in the same way as other people, organizations, companies, etc.:

We are considering legal action if they do not come into line soon.
in the firing line also in the line of fire

likely to receive criticism or to lose a job:

Next in the environment firing line are the CEOs of the world's biggest chemical companies.
Jack put himself in the line of fire by talking to the press about our problems.
get sb in line

to make someone agree to your way of doing something:

If we have to change supervisors to get everybody in line, we will.
You better get your people in line, or you'll lose the battle for market share.
hold the line

COMMUNICATIONS to keep a someone waiting on the telephone:

Will you hold the line while I check my calendar?

to continue to have an opinion, especially after a lot of argument:

She must hold the line against this kind of criticism.

to keep a price or amount of money at the same level:

The aim of the current administration is to hold the line on taxes.
The chancellor has agreed to hold the line on tuition costs for in-state students next year.
in line for sth

likely to get something:

American banks are first in line for the small, low-risk deals.
Mortgage brokers could be next in line for a ban on commissions.
in line to do sth

to have a very good chance of doing something:

The water company is in line to make a 7% efficiency cost-saving on the project.
in line with sth

similar to something or at the same level as something:

The company's results are in line withstock market expectations.
We are seeking a pay rise that's in line with inflation.
on the line

if something is on the line, it could easily be lost or destroyed:

When it's your personal credibility on the line, it's best to stop making crude jokes in meetings.
He put his career on the line when he went public about his employer's lies.
toe the line US also toe the mark

to behave according to an official rule, especially when you do not agree with it:

The new guy is better salesman and will toe the marketing department's line much more closely.

lineverb [ T ]

uk /laɪn/ us
line sb's pockets

to make someone richer, especially in illegal or dishonest ways:

They're the sort of Washington politicians who would line the pockets of their Wall Street friends.
These are simply clutching, greedy people who are just manipulating society at large to line their pockets.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “line” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)