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

climb (up) the ladder

To become increasingly powerful or successful. I'm an artist at heart, so I have no interest in climbing up the corporate ladder.
See also: climb, ladder

kick (someone or something) down the ladder

To force someone or something into a lower, or more basic position or status, especially wherein they or it will have less opportunities for success, profit, advancement, etc. They may be at the top of the league now, but a few losses will kick them down the ladder just as fast as they got up there. My promotion to management lasted less than a month before they kicked me back down the ladder. Originally meant to be a full-fledged film with a theater release and all, it was eventually kicked down the ladder to a TV miniseries.
See also: down, kick, ladder

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, someone

(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 ?
I say, if, because at this moment, apart from the presence of the ladder and his vacant room, there are no evidences which permit me even to suspect him)--if he is there, he has been obliged to pass by the ladder, and the rooms which lie behind his, in his new lodging, are occupied by the family of the steward and by the cook, and by the kitchens, which bar the way by the vestibule to the interior of the chateau.
If there had not been that ladder under the window; if there had not been those footprints on the carpet in the gallery; if there had not been that open window, I might have been led to think that this man had a right to be there, and that he was there as a matter of course and for reasons about which as yet I knew nothing.
This ladder would do admirably, unless the workmen had taken it away.
Boxtel put a lighted dark lantern into his pocket, mounted the ladder, and slipped into the dry-room.
The other two officers were not dead or mortally wounded, but Macbride lay with a broken leg and his ladder on top of him, evidently thrown down from the top window of the tower; while Wilson lay on his face, quite still as if stunned, with his red head among the gray and silver of the sea holly.
It was reached only by a ladder, and it seemed to be as bare as the bare walls.
I see no one and yet the ladder didn't come down of itself.
I had somehow the impression that he was on the point of letting go the ladder to swim away beyond my ken--mysterious as he came.
Near the bottom of the ladder, when he found no more support for his feet, he clung with his hands; at length, arrived at the last step, he let himself hang by the strength of his wrists, and touched the ground.
The mass swung clear of the ladder, the men still clinging to their escaping foe.
Raffles-Raffles - they've spotted us and moved the ladder this very instant
He could see nothing of his surroundings and felt nothing but the smooth, worn sides and rungs of the ladder down which he felt his way cautiously lest a broken rung or a misstep should hurl him downward.
shouted the doctor in his sonorous, ringing voice, as he flung out the ladder, the lowest ratlines of which tossed up the dust of the road.
Finally her glance chanced to fall upon the rope in the bow of the dugout, and, making one end of this fast to the chain, she succeeded in drifting the canoe slowly down until it lay directly beneath the ladder.
cried Kit, who had stopped short in his work and faced about on the ladder like some dexterous tumbler.