learn the ropes
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Of nautical origin: in the past, the phrase “he knows the ropes” written on a seaman’s discharge meant that he was inexperienced and only familiar with a ship’s principal ropes.
- (originally nautical, informal) To learn the basics or master introductory knowledge.
- Work slowly and cautiously until you have learned the ropes.
- 1886, Stephen F. Blanding, Recollections of a Sailor Boy: Or, The Cruise of the Gunboat Louisiana:
- Phil had "learned the ropes," so he showed us the principal points of interest aboard ship.
- (informal) To learn some skill requiring specialist knowledge.
to learn the basics