(1)   The principal activity in your life that you do to earn money
"He's not in my line of business"
(2)   Acting in conformity
"In line with"
"He got out of line"
"Toe the line"
(3)   A conductor for transmitting electrical or optical signals or electric power
(4)   Something (as a cord or rope) that is long and thin and flexible
"A washing line"
(5)   The road consisting of railroad track and roadbed
(6)   A commercial organization serving as a common carrier
(7)   A particular kind of product or merchandise
"A nice line of shoes"
(8)   A pipe used to transport liquids or gases
"A pipeline runs from the wells to the seaport"
(9)   Mechanical system in a factory whereby an article is conveyed through sites at which successive operations are performed on it
(10)   A telephone connection
(11)   A conceptual separation or distinction
"There is a narrow line between sanity and insanity"
(12)   The methodical process of logical reasoning
"I can't follow your line of reasoning"
(13)   (often plural) a means of communication or access
"It must go through official channels"
"Lines of communication were set up between the two firms"
(14)   A short personal letter
"Drop me a line when you get there"
(15)   A mark that is long relative to its width
"He drew a line on the chart"
(16)   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"
(17)   A succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence
"She was humming an air from Beethoven"
(18)   The descendants of one individual
"His entire lineage has been warriors"
(19)   A connected series of events or actions or developments
"The government took a firm course"
"Historians can only point out those lines for which evidence is available"
(20)   A formation of people or things one behind another
"The line stretched clear around the corner"
"You must wait in a long line at the checkout counter"
(21)   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"
(22)   A spatial location defined by a real or imaginary unidimensional extent
(23)   In games or sports; a mark indicating positions or bounds of the playing area
(24)   A fortified position (especially one marking the most forward position of troops)
"They attacked the enemy's line"
(25)   A single frequency (or very narrow band) of radiation in a spectrum


From line, from līne (‘cable, hawser’), probably from linea (‘linen thread, string, line’) or linum (‘flax, thread, linen, cable’) or a conflation of both of those words. The English word was influenced by the ligne (‘line’), which derives from the same Latin word, linea.


  1. A rope, cord, string, or thread; a slender, strong cord, or a cord of any thickness; a hawser.
    Who so layeth lines for to latch fowls. — Piers Plowman
    fishing line, anchor line, clothesline, towline
  2. A path through two or more points (see also segment), a continuous mark, including as made by a pen, pencil, or graver; any path.
    • 1816: Percy Shelley, The Daemon of the World
      The atmosphere in flaming sparkles flew; / And where the burning wheels / Eddied above the mountain’s loftiest peak / Was traced a line of lightning.
    a chalk line was drawn around the body
    The arrow descended in a curved line.
    The place is remote from lines of travel.
  3. An infinitely extending one-dimensional figure that has no curvature; one that has length but not breadth or thickness.
  4. A line segment; a continuous finite segment of such a figure.
  5. A written or printed row of letters, words, numbers, or other text, especially a row of words extending across a page or column
    The answer to the comprehension question can be found in the third line of the accompanying text.
    In the preceding line Ulysses speaks of Nausicaa. — Broome
    1. by extension, a verse (in poetry)
    • 1609: Shakespeare, Sonnet 71
      Nay if you read this line, remember not, / The hand that writ it.
    1. by extension; such a line as read aloud:
    2. a sentence of dialogue, as in a screenplay.
    It’s a small part, I have 12 lines in the movie. — Geneveve Bujold in Earthquake
  6. The official, stated position (or set of positions) of an individual or group, particularly a political or religious faction.
    Remember, your answers must match the party line.
    Their line is gone out through all the earth. — Ps. xix. 4
  7. A letter, a written form of communication.
    Drop me a line.
  8. The wire connecting one telegraphic station with another, a telephone or internet cable between two points: a telephone or network connection.
    I tried to make a call, but the line was dead.
    a dedicated line
    a shared line
    Please speak up, the line is very faint.
  9. A more-or-less straight sequence of people, objects, etc., either arranged as a queue or column and often waiting to be processed or dealt with, or arranged abreast of one another in a row (and contrasted with a column), as in a military formation.
    The line forms on the right.
    There is a line of houses.
    • 1817: Percy Shelley, The Revolt of Islam
      A band of brothers gathering round me, made, / Although unarmed, a steadfast front, [...] now the line / Of war extended, to our rallying cry / As myriads flocked in love and brotherhood to die.
    Unite thy forces and attack their lines. — Dryden
  10. The regular infantry of an army, as distinguished from militia, guards, volunteer corps, cavalry, artillery, etc.
  11. A trench or rampart, or the non-physical demarcation of the extent of the territory occupied by specified armed forces.
    • 1917, John Masefield, The Old Front Line
      This description of the old front line, as it was when the Battle of the Somme began, may some day be of use. [...] It is hoped that this description of the line will be followed by an account of our people's share in the battle.
  12. The products or services sold by a business, or by extension, the business itself.
    line of business, product line
    How many buses does the line have?
    The airline is in danger of bankruptcy.
    A ship of the line.
  13. The position in which the fencers hold their swords.
  14. An edge of a graph.
  15. The horizontal path of a ball towards the batsman (see also length).
  16. The batter’s box.
  17. Flax; linen, particularly the longer fiber of flax.
    Garments made of line. — Spenser
  18. Direction
    the line of sight or the line of vision
  19. Course of conduct, thought, occupation, or policy; method of argument; department of industry, trade, or intellectual activity.
    He is uncommonly powerful in his own line, but it is not the line of a first-rate man. — Coleridge
  20. The exterior limit of a figure, plat, or territory; a boundary; a contour; an outline; a demarcation.
    • 1674John Milton, Paradise Lost, book IV
      Eden stretchd her Line / From Auran Eastward to the Royal Towrs / Of great Seleucia,
  21. A threadlike crease marking the face or the hand; hence, characteristic mark.
    Though on his brow were graven lines austere. — Byron
    He tipples palmistry, and dines On all her fortune-telling lines. — Cleveland
  22. Lineament; feature; figure (of one's body).
    • c 1609: Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Cymbeline
      I mean, the lines of my body are as well drawn as his.
  23. A series or succession of ancestors or descendants of a given person; a family or race; compare lineage.
    • 14th c: Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales
      Of his lineage am I, and his offspring / By very line,
    • c 1604: Shakespeare, Macbeth
      They hail'd him father to a line of kings.
    • 1651: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
      [T]he rest of the history of the Old Testament derives the succession of the line of David to the Captivity, of which line was to spring the restorer of the kingdom of God [...]
  24. A connected series of public conveyances, as a roadbed or railway track; and hence, an established arrangement for forwarding merchandise, etc.
    a line of stages
    an express line
  25. A circle of latitude or of longitude, as represented on a map.
  26. The equator.
    to cross the line
  27. A long tape, or a narrow ribbon of steel, etc., marked with subdivisions, as feet and inches, for measuring; a tapeline.
  28. That which was measured by a line, as a field or any piece of land set apart; hence, allotted place of abode.
    The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yes. I have a goodly heritage. — Ps. xvi. 6
  29. The proper relative position or adjustment of parts, not as to design or proportion, but with reference to smooth working.
    the engine is in line / out of line
  30. One of the straight horizontal and parallel prolonged strokes on and between which the notes are placed.
  31. A number of shares taken by a jobber.
  32. A measure of length equal to one twelfth of an inch.
    • 1883: Alfred Swaine Taylor, Thomas Stevenson, The principles and practice of medical jurisprudence
      The cutis measures in thickness from a quarter of a line to a line and a half (a line is one-twelfth of an inch).
  33. A hose.


  1. To cover the inside/inner surface of (something).
    The bird lines its nest with soft grass.
    to line a cloak with silk or fur
    to line a box with paper or tin
  2. To fill or supply (something), as a purse with money.
    The charge amounteth very high for any one man’s purse, except lined beyond ordinary, to reach unto. — Carew.
  3. To place (objects) into a line (usually used with "up"); to form into a line; to align.
    to line troops
  4. To place persons or things along the side of for security or defense; to strengthen by adding; to fortify.
    to line works with soldiers
    • 1599William Shakespeare, Henry V, ii 4
      Line and new repair our towns of war With men of courage and with means defendant.
  5. To mark with a line or lines, to cover with lines.
    to line a copy book
  6. To represent by lines; to delineate; to portray.
    • 1598William Shakespeare, As You Like It, iii 2
      All the pictures fairest lined Are but black to Rosalind.
  7. To impregnate (applied to brute animals). — Creech.
  8. To read or repeat line by line.
    to line out a hymn
  9. To form or enter into a line.
  10. To hit a line drive; to hit a line drive which is caught for an out. Compare fly and ground.
    • Jones lined to left in his last at-bat.