ladder

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corporate ladder

The hierarchy of authority and earning power within a large business or corporation, likened to the rungs of a ladder. Usually used with some variable verb or phrase referring to ascension. Although you're starting at an entry-level position, this company prides itself on giving employees the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder if they prove their abilities and determination. She proved early on that she had unique business smarts, and she's been making her way up the corporate ladder ever since.
See also: corporate, ladder

low man on the ladder

The person (not necessarily male) with the least amount of experience, authority, and/or influence in a social or corporate hierarchy. It can be a little daunting going from being a senior in high school to low man on the ladder again as a college freshman. I know I'll be low man on the ladder with this internship, but it will at least give me a place to start my career!
See also: ladder, low, man, on

the lowest rung on the ladder

The person with the least amount of experience, authority, and/or influence in a social or corporate hierarchy. It can be a little daunting going from being a senior in high school to the lowest rung of the ladder again as a college freshman. I know I'll be the lowest rung on the ladder with this internship, but it will at least give me a place to start my career!
See also: ladder, low, on, rung

the lowest rung of the ladder

The lowest, most basic position in a given group. Quarks are at the lowest rung of the ladder in the physical makeup of matter. Tech startups may start on the lowest rung of the ladder economically, but, given their business model, they have a very high potential for growth.
See also: ladder, low, of, rung

the social ladder

The hierarchical structure or makeup of a culture, society, or social environment. Miss Dumfey hopes to improve her standing on the social ladder with a marriage to the baron. It's always hard for high school freshmen to find their place on the social ladder. Mary's had a chip on her shoulder from being raised in a trailer park, so climbing the social ladder has been her only aim since leaving home.
See also: ladder, social

climb the social ladder

To improve one's position within the hierarchical structure or makeup of a culture, society, or social environment. Miss Dumfey hopes to climb the social ladder by marrying the local diplomat. John's had a chip on his shoulder from being raised in a trailer park, so climbing the social ladder has been his only aim since leaving home.
See also: climb, ladder, social

snakes and ladders

A children's board game in which players try to reach the finish while encountering ladders that move them quickly forward, and snakes that force them back near the start. My little sister loves to play snakes and ladders, but I find it so frustrating because I always seem to land on snakes!
See also: and, ladder, snake

at the bottom of the ladder

Occupying the lowest, most basic position in a given group. Quarks are at the bottom of the ladder in the physical makeup of matter. Tech startups may start at the bottom of the ladder economically, but, given their business model, they have a very high potential for growth.
See also: bottom, ladder, of

at the top of the ladder

In the highest or most important position in a group or organization. With her new promotion, Jill is now at the top of the ladder as CEO.
See also: ladder, of, top

can't see a hole in a ladder

1. Is stupid or dimwitted. Don't give Randy that important project—he can't see a hole in a ladder!
2. Is drunk. Don't buy him any more drinks—he already can't see a hole in a ladder.
See also: hole, ladder, see

crosses are ladders that lead to heaven

Suffering through difficult times can make one righteous or virtuous. A: "It's amazing that she's so willing to help others after all the trauma she's endured in her own life." B: "Well, crosses are ladders that lead to heaven."
See also: crosse, heaven, ladder, lead, that

the first/top rung on the ladder

The top or superior position in a particular field or arena. The first rung on the ladder in this school is captain of the football team.
See also: first, ladder, on, rung, top

the top of the ladder

The highest position or level in an organization, field, etc. Don't think you're going to reach the top of the ladder right out of college. It takes time to work your way up.
See also: ladder, of, top

the bottom of the ladder

The lowest, most basic position in a given group. Quarks are at the bottom of the ladder in the physical makeup of matter. Tech startups may start at the bottom of the ladder economically, but, given their business model, they have a very high potential for growth.
See also: bottom, ladder, of

at the bottom of the ladder

 and on the bottom rung (of the ladder)
Fig. at the lowest level of pay and status. (Alludes to the lowness of the bottom rung of a ladder.) Most people start work at the bottom of the ladder. After Ann got fired, she had to start all over again on the bottom rung.
See also: bottom, ladder, of

can't see a hole in a ladder

stupid or drunk. No use asking her questions. She can't see a hole in a ladder. After the big party, Joe needed someone to drive him home. He couldn't see a hole in a ladder.
See also: hole, ladder, see

Crosses are ladders that lead to heaven.

Prov. Having to endure trouble can help you to be virtuous. When Mary was diagnosed with cancer, her mother consoled her by saying that crosses are ladders that lead to heaven, and that though she might have to suffer in this world, she would surely be rewarded in the next.
See also: Crosse, heaven, ladder, lead, that

He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom.

Prov. If you want to gain high status, you must start with low status and slowly work upwards. Although Thomas hoped to become a famous journalist, he didn't mind working for a small-town newspaper at first. "He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom," he said.
See also: begin, bottom, climb, he, ladder, must, who

bottom of the ladder

Lowest or most junior position in a hierarchy. For example, If we hire you, you'll have to begin at the bottom of the ladder. The rungs of a ladder have been likened to a step-wise progression since the 14th century. Also see low man on the totem pole.
See also: bottom, ladder, of

climb up the ladder

or

climb the ladder

If you climb up the ladder or climb the ladder, you become more and more successful or important. There's no need for the sort of competitive behaviour you get at companies where people are trying to climb up the ladder. He became the first man to climb the social ladder from a log cabin to the White House. Note: You can also say that someone moves up the ladder. If you think you can do more than you are doing in your present position, you owe it to yourself to make the effort to move up the ladder.
See also: climb, ladder, up

kick someone down the ladder

reject or disown the friends or associates who have helped you to rise in the world, especially with the idea of preventing them from attaining a similar position.
See also: down, kick, ladder

(at) the top of the ˈtree/ˈladder

(at) the highest position in a career: Anyone can get to the top of the ladder if they try hard enough.
See also: ladder, of, top, tree
References in classic literature ?
The locksmith turned, with a start, towards the place from which the words had come, and looked hurriedly at the people who were hanging on the ladder and clinging to each other.
So it was he who in turn mounted the ladder, unhooking pictures and curtains, and dislodging ornaments as Edna directed.
The garret was lighted by a candle stuck upon a board; it had almost burned itself out, and was sputtering and smoking as Jurgis rushed up the ladder.
Why, Tom Sawyer, how you talk," I says; "Jim ain't got no use for a rope ladder.
and obediently disappeared as he descended the ladder.
And Aramis ascended the ladder quickly and reached the window in an instant.
Not from compunction certainly, but, as it were me- chanically, I proceeded to get the ladder in myself.
It's only a sort of loft, reached by a ladder, said Nolan.
Aunt Em, badly frightened, threw open the trap door in the floor and climbed down the ladder into the small, dark hole.
If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I too will try my fortune,' said he, and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried:
My eyes had now become quite used to the subdued light of the interior, and as I pursued my investigation I presently came upon a rough ladder at the far side of the cave.
I had raised the rope-ladder after us into my own old room, and while Raffles wedged his door I lowered the ladder from one of the best bedroom windows, in order to prepare that way of escape which was a fundamental feature of his own strategy.
I shall descend, and Joe will go with me, only that he must remain at the foot of the ladder.
said Jupiter, "a scholar has just seized the ladder.
As he turned to descend the ladder he was surprised to see his wife standing on the steps almost at his side.