Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
ratchet (plural ratchets)
- A pawl, click, or detent for holding or propelling a ratchet wheel, or ratch, etc.
- A mechanism composed of a ratchet wheel, or ratch and pawl.
- A ratchet wrench.
- (analogous) A procedure or regulation that goes in one direction, usually up.
2012 December 21, Simon Jenkins, “We mustn't overreact to North Korea boys' toys”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 2, page 23:
- The threat of terrorism to the British lies in the overreaction to it of British governments. Each one in turn clicks up the ratchet of surveillance, intrusion and security. Each one diminishes liberty.
pawl, click or detent for a ratchet wheel
mechanism composed of a ratchet wheel and pawl
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- (transitive) To cause to become incremented or decremented.
- It's time to ratchet up the intensity level here.
- (intransitive) To increment or decrement.