line (n.)

a Middle English merger of Old English line "cable, rope; series, row, row of letters; rule, direction," and Old French ligne "guideline, cord, string; lineage, descent" (12c.), both from Latin linea "linen thread, string, plumb-line," also "a mark, bound, limit, goal; line of descent," short for linea restis "linen cord," and similar phrases, from fem. of lineus (adj.) "of linen," from linum "linen" (see linen).

The earliest sense in Middle English was "cord used by builders for taking measurements;" extended late 14c. to "a thread-like mark" (from sense "cord used by builders for making things level," mid-14c.), also "track, course, direction." Meaning "limit, boundary" (of a county, etc.) is from 1590s. The mathematical sense of "length without breadth" is from 1550s. From 1530s as "a crease of the face or palm of the hand." From 1580s as "the equator."

Sense of "things or people arranged in a straight line" is from 1550s. Now considered American English, where British English uses queue (n.), but the sense appears earliest in English writers. Sense of "chronologically continuous series of persons" (a line of kings, etc.) is from late 14c.

Meaning "one's occupation, branch of business" is from 1630s, according to OED probably from misunderstood KJV translation of II Corinthians x.16, "And not to boast in another mans line of things made ready to our hand," where line translates Greek kanon which probably meant "boundary, limit;" the phrase "in another man's line" being parenthetical.

Commercial meaning "class of goods in stock" is from 1930, so called from being goods received by the merchant on a line in the specific sense "order given to an agent" for particular goods (1834). Insurance underwriting sense is from 1899. Line of credit is from 1958.

Meaning "series of public conveyances" (coaches, later ships) is from 1786; meaning "continuous part of a railroad" is from 1825. Meaning "telegraph wire between stations" is from 1847 (later "telephone wire"). Meaning "cord bearing hooks used in fishing" is from c. 1300. Meaning "policy or set of policies of a political faction" is 1892, American English, from notion of a procession of followers; this is the sense in the political party line, and, deteriorated, it is the slang line that means "glib and plausible talk meant to deceive."

In British army, the Line (1802) is the regular, numbered troops, as distinguished from guards, auxiliaries, militia, etc. In the Navy (1704) it refers to the battle line (the sense in ship of the line, which is attested from 1706).

Dutch lijn, Old High German lina, German Leine, Old Norse lina "a cord, rope," are likewise from Latin. Spanish and Italian have the word in the learned form linea. In continental measurements, a subdivision of an inch (one-tenth or one-twelfth in England), attested in English from 1660s but never common. Also see lines.

To get a line on "acquire information about" is from 1903. To lay it on the line is from 1929 as "to pay money;" by 1954 as "speak plainly." End of the line "as far as one can go" is from 1948. One's line of work, meaning "pursuit, interest" is from 1957, earlier line of country (1861). Line-drawing is from 1891. A line-storm (1850) is a type supposed to happen in the 10 days or two weeks around the times the sun crosses the equator.

line (v.1)

"to cover the inner side of" (clothes, garments, etc.), late 14c., from Old English lin "linen cloth" (see linen). Linen was frequently used in the Middle Ages as a second layer of material on the inner side of a garment. Hence, by extension, "to fill the insides of" (1510s). Related: Lined; lining.

line (v.2)

late 14c., "to tie with a cord," from line (n.). Meaning "to mark or mark off with lines" is from mid-15c. Sense of "arrange a line" is from 1640s, originally military; that of "to join a line" is by 1773. To line up is by 1864 as "form a good line, be in alignment;" 1889 as "form a line," in U.S. football; transitive sense "make into a line" is by 1902. Also see line-up. For line bees see bee-line. Related: Lined; lining.

updated on December 07, 2018

Definitions of line from WordNet
line (n.)
a formation of people or things one beside another;
the line of soldiers advanced with their bayonets fixed
they were arrayed in line of battle
the cast stood in line for the curtain call
line (n.)
a mark that is long relative to its width;
He drew a line on the chart
line (n.)
a formation of people or things one behind another;
you must wait in a long line at the checkout counter
the line stretched clear around the corner
line (n.)
a length (straight or curved) without breadth or thickness; the trace of a moving point;
line (n.)
text consisting of a row of words written across a page or computer screen;
the letter consisted of three short lines
there are six lines in every stanza
line (n.)
a single frequency (or very narrow band) of radiation in a spectrum;
line (n.)
a fortified position (especially one marking the most forward position of troops);
they attacked the enemy's line
line (n.)
a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating a truth or falsehood; the methodical process of logical reasoning;
I can't follow your line of reasoning
Synonyms: argumentation / logical argument / argument / line of reasoning
line (n.)
a conductor for transmitting electrical or optical signals or electric power;
Synonyms: cable / transmission line
line (n.)
a connected series of events or actions or developments;
historians can only point out those lines for which evidence is available
Synonyms: course
line (n.)
a spatial location defined by a real or imaginary unidimensional extent;
line (n.)
a slight depression or fold in the smoothness of a surface;
his face has many lines
Synonyms: wrinkle / furrow / crease / crinkle / seam
line (n.)
a pipe used to transport liquids or gases;
Synonyms: pipeline
line (n.)
the road consisting of railroad track and roadbed;
Synonyms: railway line / rail line
line (n.)
a telephone connection;
Synonyms: telephone line / phone line / telephone circuit / subscriber line
line (n.)
acting in conformity;
he got out of line
in line with
toe the line
line (n.)
the descendants of one individual;
Synonyms: lineage / line of descent / descent / bloodline / blood line / blood / pedigree / ancestry / origin / parentage / stemma / stock
line (n.)
something (as a cord or rope) that is long and thin and flexible;
a washing line
line (n.)
the principal activity in your life that you do to earn money;
he's not in my line of business
Synonyms: occupation / business / job / line of work
line (n.)
in games or sports; a mark indicating positions or bounds of the playing area;
line (n.)
(often plural) a means of communication or access;
lines of communication were set up between the two firms
Synonyms: channel / communication channel
line (n.)
a particular kind of product or merchandise;
a nice line of shoes
Synonyms: product line / line of products / line of merchandise / business line / line of business
line (n.)
a commercial organization serving as a common carrier;
line (n.)
space for one line of print (one column wide and 1/14 inch deep) used to measure advertising;
Synonyms: agate line
line (n.)
the maximum credit that a customer is allowed;
Synonyms: credit line / line of credit / bank line / personal credit line / personal line of credit
line (n.)
a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence;
Synonyms: tune / melody / air / strain / melodic line / melodic phrase
line (n.)
persuasive but insincere talk that is usually intended to deceive or impress;
he has a smooth line but I didn't fall for it
`let me show you my etchings' is a rather worn line
that salesman must have practiced his fast line of talk
line (n.)
a short personal letter;
drop me a line when you get there
Synonyms: note / short letter / billet
line (n.)
a conceptual separation or distinction;
there is a narrow line between sanity and insanity
Synonyms: dividing line / demarcation / contrast
line (n.)
mechanical system in a factory whereby an article is conveyed through sites at which successive operations are performed on it;
Synonyms: production line / assembly line
line (v.)
be in line with; form a line along;
trees line the riverbank
Synonyms: run along
line (v.)
cover the interior of;
line the gloves
line a chimney
line (v.)
make a mark or lines on a surface;
draw a line
Synonyms: trace / draw / describe / delineate
line (v.)
mark with lines;
sorrow had lined his face
line (v.)
fill plentifully;
line one's pockets
line (v.)
reinforce with fabric;
lined books are more enduring
From, not affiliated with etymonline.