line ( lines plural & 3rd person present) ( lining present participle) ( lined past tense & past participle )
1 n-count A line is a long thin mark which is drawn or painted on a surface.
Draw a line down that page's center., ...a dotted line..., The ball had clearly crossed the line.
2 n-count The lines on someone's skin, especially on their face, are long thin marks that appear there as they grow older.
He has a large, generous face with deep lines.
3 n-count A line of people or things is a number of them arranged one behind the other or side by side.
oft N of n
The sparse line of spectators noticed nothing unusual.
4 n-count A line of people or vehicles is a number of them that are waiting one behind another, for example in order to buy something or to go in a particular direction.
Children clutching empty bowls form a line...
5 n-count A line of a piece of writing is one of the rows of words, numbers, or other symbols in it.
The next line should read: Five days, 23.5 hours..., Tina wouldn't have read more than three lines.
6 n-count A line of a poem, song, or play is a group of words that are spoken or sung together. If an actor learns his or her lines for a play or film, they learn what they have to say.
...a line from Shakespeare's Othello: `one that loved not wisely but too well'..., Learning lines is very easy. Acting is very difficult.
7 n-var You can refer to a long piece of wire, string, or cable as a line when it is used for a particular purpose.
usu with supp
She put her washing on the line., ...a piece of fishing-line..., The winds downed power lines.
8 n-count A line is a connection which makes it possible for two people to speak to each other on the telephone.
oft on the N
The telephone lines went dead..., It's not a very good line. Shall we call you back Susan?..., She's on the line from her home in Boston.
9 n-count You can use line to refer to a telephone number which you can ring in order to get information or advice.
oft in names after n
...the 24-hours information line.
10 n-count A line is a route, especially a dangerous or secret one, along which people move or send messages or supplies.
usu pl, usu with supp
Negotiators say they're keeping communication lines open., ...the guerrillas' main supply lines.
11 n-count The line in which something or someone moves is the particular route that they take, especially when they keep moving straight ahead.
Walk in a straight line..., The wings were at right angles to the line of flight.
12 n-count A line is a particular route, involving the same stations, roads, or stops along which a train or bus service regularly operates.
usu with supp, oft in names after n
They've got to ride all the way to the end of the line..., I would be able to stay on the Piccadilly Line and get off the tube at South Kensington.
13 n-count A railway line consists of the pieces of metal and wood which form the track that the trains travel along.
14 n-count A shipping, air, or bus line is a company which provides services for transporting people or goods by sea, air, or bus. (BUSINESS) usu supp N
The Foreign Office offered to pay the shipping line all the costs of diverting the ship to Bermuda.
15 n-count A state or county line is a boundary between two states or counties.
(AM) usu sing, with supp
...the California state line.
16 n-count You can use lines to refer to the set of physical defences or the soldiers that have been established along the boundary of an area occupied by an army.
Their unit was shelling the German lines only seven miles away.
17 n-count The particular line that a person has towards a problem is the attitude that they have towards it. For example, if someone takes a hard line on something, they have a firm strict policy which they refuse to change.
usu sing, with supp
Forty members of the governing Conservative party rebelled, voting against the government line...
18 n-count You can use line to refer to the way in which someone's thoughts or activities develop, particularly if it is logical.
usu N of n/-ing
What are some of the practical benefits likely to be of this line of research?
19 n-plural If you say that something happens along particular lines, or on particular lines, you are giving a general summary or approximate account of what happens, which may not be correct in every detail.
usu along/on N with supp
He'd said something along those lines already..., Our forecast for 1990 was on the right lines...
20 n-plural If something is organized on particular lines, or along particular lines, it is organized according to that method or principle.
on/along N with supp
...so-called autonomous republics based on ethnic lines., ...reorganising old factories to work along Japanese lines.
21 n-count Your lineof business or work is the kind of work that you do. (BUSINESS) usu N of n
So what was your father's line of business?..., In my line of work I often get home too late for dinner.
22 n-count A line is a particular type of product that a company makes or sells.
His best selling line is the cheapest lager at £1.99.
23 n-count In a factory, a line is an arrangement of workers or machines where a product passes from one worker to another until it is finished.
...a production line capable of producing three different products.
24 n-count You can use line when you are referring to a number of people who are ranked according to status.
usu sing, oft N of n, ord in N
Nicholas Paul Patrick was seventh in the line of succession to the throne..., ...the man who stands next in line for the presidency.
25 n-count A particular lineof people or things is a series of them that has existed over a period of time, when they have all been similar in some way, or done similar things.
usu sing, usu N of n
We were part of a long line of artists..., It's the latest in a long line of tragedies.
26 verb If people or things line a road, room, or other place, they are present in large numbers along its edges or sides.
Thousands of local people lined the streets and clapped as the procession went by. V n
...a square lined with pubs and clubs. V-ed
-lined comb in adj
...a long tree-lined drive.
27 verb If you line a wall, container, or other object, you put a layer of something such as leaves or paper on the inside surface of it in order to make it stronger, warmer, or cleaner.
Scoop the blanket weed out and use it to line hanging baskets... V n
Female bears tend to line their dens with leaves or grass. V n with n
-lined comb in adj
...a dark, suede-lined case.
28 verb If something lines a container or area, especially an area inside a person, animal, or plant, it forms a layer on the inside surface.
...the muscles that line the intestines. V n
30 If you draw the lineat a particular activity, you refuse to do it, because you disapprove of it or because it is more extreme than what you normally do.
draw the line phrase V inflects, oft PHR at n/-ing
Letters have come from prisoners, declaring that they would draw the line at hitting an old lady.
31 If you draw a linebetween two things, you make a distinction between them.
draw a line phrase V inflects
It is, however, not possible to draw a distinct line between the two categories.
32 If you do something or if it happens to you in the line of duty, you do it or it happens as part of your regular work or as a result of it.
in the line of duty phrase PHR after v, v-link PHR
More than 3,000 police officers were wounded in the line of duty last year.
33 If you refer to a method as the first line of, for example, defence or treatment, you mean that it is the first or most important method to be used in dealing with a problem.
the first line of phrase PHR n
Passport checks will remain the first line of defence against terrorists...
34 If you are in linefor something, it is likely to happen to you or you are likely to obtain it. If something is in lineto happen, it is likely to happen.
in line phrase PHR for n, PHR to-inf
He must be in line for a place in the Guinness Book of Records..., Public sector pay is also in line to be hit hard.
35 If one object is in linewith others, or moves into linewith others, they are arranged in a line. You can also say that a number of objects are in line or move into line.
in/into line phrase v-link PHR, PHR after v, oft PHR with n
The device itself was right under the vehicle, almost in line with the gear lever..., Venus, the Sun and Earth all moved into line.
36 If one thing is in linewith another, or is brought into linewith it, the first thing is, or becomes, similar to the second, especially in a way that has been planned or expected.
in/into line phrase usu PHR after v, v-link PHR, oft PHR with n
The structure of our schools is now broadly in line with the major countries of the world..., This brings the law into line with most medical opinion.
37 When people stand in line or wait in line, they stand one behind the other in a line, waiting their turn for something.
stand/wait in line phrase V inflects
I had been standing in line for three hours.
in BRIT, use queue
38 If you keep someone in line or bring them into line, you make them obey you, or you make them behave in the way you want them to.
in line/into line phrase PHR after v
All this was just designed to frighten me and keep me in line., ...if the Prime Minister fails to bring rebellious Tories into line.
39 If a machine or piece of equipment comes on line, it starts operating. If it is off line, it is not operating.
on line phrase usu PHR after v
The new machine will go on line in June 2006..., Every second her equipment was off line cost the company money.
40 If you do something on line, you do it using a computer or a computer network.
on line phrase PHR after v, v-link PHR, PHR n
They can order their requirements on line., ...on-line transaction processing.
41 If something such as your job, career, or reputation is on the line, you may lose or harm it as a result of what you are doing or of the situation you are in.
on the line phrase usu PHR after v, v-link PHR
He wouldn't put his career on the line to help a friend.
42 If one thing is out of line with another, the first thing is different from the second in a way that was not agreed, planned, or expected.
out of line phrase usu v-link PHR, oft PHR with n
...if one set of figures is sharply out of line with a trend.
43 If someone steps out of line, they disobey someone or behave in an unacceptable way.
out of line phrase v PHR, v-link PHR
Any one of my players who steps out of line will be in trouble with me as well..., You're way out of line, lady.
44 If you read between the lines, you understand what someone really means, or what is really happening in a situation, even though it is not said openly.
read between the lines phrase V inflects
Reading between the lines, it seems neither Cole nor Ledley King will be going to Japan.
to sign on the dotted line
to line your pockets
the line of least resistance
to toe the line
toe line up
1 phrasal verb If people line up or if you line them up, they move so that they are standing in a line.
The senior leaders lined up behind him in orderly rows... V P
The gym teachers lined us up against the cement walls... V n P
When he came back the sergeant had lined up the terrorists. V P n (not pron)
2 phrasal verb If you line things up, you move them into a straight row.
I would line up my toys on this windowsill and play... V P n (not pron)
He finished polishing the cocktail glasses and lined them up behind the bar. V n P
3 phrasal verb If you line one thing upwith another, or one thing lines upwith another, the first thing is moved into its correct position in relation to the second. You can also say that two things line up, or are lined up.
You have to line the car up with the ones beside you... V n P with n
Gas cookers are adjustable in height to line up with your kitchen work top... V P with n
Mahoney had lined up two of the crates... V P pl-n
When the images line up exactly, the projectors should be fixed in place... pl-n V P
All we have to do is to get the two pieces lined up properly. V-ed P, Also V P n with n, V pl-n P
4 phrasal verb If you line up an event or activity, you arrange for it to happen. If you line someone up for an event or activity, you arrange for them to be available for that event or activity.
She lined up executives, politicians and educators to serve on the board of directors... V P n to-inf
Bob Dylan is lining up a two-week UK tour for the New Year. V P n (not pron), Also V n P, V n P to-inf
above-the-line promotion ( above-the-line promotions plural ) Above-the-line promotion is the use of promotional methods that cannot be directly controlled by the company selling the goods or service, such as television or press advertising. Compare below-the-line promotion. (BUSINESS) n-var
For all maternity clothing retailers, most above-the-line promotion is conducted through focused sources such as mother and baby magazines.
advice line ( advice lines plural ) An advice line is a service that you can telephone in order to get advice about something. n-count
For help on crime prevention, call our 24-hour advice line.
assembly line ( assembly lines plural ) An assembly line is an arrangement of workers and machines in a factory, where each worker deals with only one part of a product. The product passes from one worker to another until it is finished. n-count
below-the-line promotion ( below-the-line promotions plural ) Below-the-line promotion is the use of promotional methods that can be controlled by the company selling the goods or service, such as in-store offers and direct selling. Compare above-the-line promotion. (BUSINESS) n-var
The advertising campaign will be supported by a PR and below-the-line promotion...
A woman's bikini line is the edges of the area where her pubic hair grows. n-sing
bottom line ( bottom lines plural )
1 n-count Thebottom line in a decision or situation is the most important factor that you have to consider.
usu sing, usu the N
The bottom line is that it's not profitable...
2 n-count The bottom line in a business deal is the least a person is willing to accept.
usu sing, usu poss N
She says £95,000 is her bottom line.
3 n-count The bottom line is the total amount of money that a company has made or lost over a particular period of time. (BUSINESS) oft poss N
...to force chief executives to look beyond the next quarter's bottom line.
branch line ( branch lines plural ) A branch line is a railway line that goes to small towns rather than one that goes between large cities. n-count
chat-up line ( chat-up lines plural ) A chat-up line is a remark that someone makes in order to start a conversation with someone they do not know but find sexually attractive.
in AM, use line
dividing line ( dividing lines plural )
1 n-count A dividing line is a distinction or set of distinctions which marks the difference between two types of thing or two groups.
usu sing, oft N between pl-n
There's a very thin dividing line between joviality and hysteria.
2 n-sing Thedividing line between two areas is the boundary between them.
oft N between pl-n
...people on both sides of the dividing line between Israel and the occupied territories.
fault line ( fault lines plural )
1 n-count A fault line is a long crack in the surface of the earth. Earthquakes usually occur along fault lines.
2 n-count A fault line in a system or process is an area of it that seems weak and likely to cause problems or failure.
These issues have created a stark fault line within the Peace Process.
finishing line ( finishing lines plural ) , finish line In a race, the finishing line is the place on the track or course where the race officially ends. n-count
firing line ( firing lines plural ) , firing-line
1 n-count If you are in thefiring line in a conflict, you are in a position where someone is aiming their gun at you.
usu the N in sing, usu prep N
Any hostages in the firing line would have been sacrificed...
2 n-sing If you say that someone is inthe firing line, you mean that they are being criticized, blamed, or attacked for something.
the N, usu in/out of N
Foreign banks are in the firing line too...
front line ( front lines plural ) , front-line
1 n-count Thefront line is the place where two opposing armies are facing each other and where fighting is going on.
usu the N
...a massive concentration of soldiers on the front line.
2 adj A front line state shares a border with a country that it is at war with or is in conflict with.
...the front-line states bordering South Africa.
3 Someone who is in the front line has to play a very important part in defending or achieving something.
in the front line phrase v-link PHR, PHR after v
Information officers are in the front line of putting across government policies.
goal line ( goal lines plural ) , goal-line In games such as football and rugby, a goal line is one of the lines at each end of the field. n-count
Line dancing is a style of dancing in which people move across the floor in a line, accompanied by country and western music. n-uncount
line drawing ( line drawings plural ) A line drawing is a drawing which consists only of lines. n-count
line manager ( line managers plural ) Your line manager is the person at work who is in charge of your department, group, or project.
(BRIT, BUSINESS) n-count
line of sight ( lines of sight plural ) Your line of sight is an imaginary line that stretches between your eye and the object that you are looking at. n-count usu sing, oft with poss
He was trying to keep out of the bird's line of sight.
line of vision
Your line of vision is the same as your line of sight. n-sing usu with poss
Any crack in a car windscreen always seems to be right in the driver's line of vision.
line-up ( line-ups plural )
1 n-count A line-up is a group of people or a series of things that have been gathered together to be part of a particular event.
The programme is back for a new series with a great line-up of musicians and comedy acts.
2 n-count At a line-up, a witness to a crime tries to identify the criminal from among a line of people.
He failed to identify Graham from photographs, but later picked him out of a police line-up.
The party line on a particular issue is the official view taken by a political party, which its members are expected to support. n-sing
They ignored the official party line.
picket line ( picket lines plural ) A picket line is a group of pickets outside a place of work. n-count
No one tried to cross the picket lines.
plumb line ( plumb lines plural ) A plumb line is a piece of string with a weight attached to the end that is used to check that something such as a wall is vertical or that it slopes at the correct angle. n-count
If someone is on the poverty line, they have just enough income to buy the things they need in order to live. n-sing the N
Thirteen per cent of the population live below the poverty line.
power line ( power lines plural ) A power line is a cable, especially above ground, along which electricity is passed to an area or building. n-count
production line ( production lines plural ) A production line is an arrangement of machines in a factory where the products pass from machine to machine until they are finished. n-count
product line ( product lines plural ) A product line is a group of related products produced by one manufacturer, for example products that are intended to be used for similar purposes or to be sold in similar types of shops. (BUSINESS) n-count
A well-known UK supermarket launches more than 1,000 new product lines each year.
supply line ( supply lines plural ) A supply line is a route along which goods and equipment are transported to an army during a war. n-count
The bombing campaign appears aimed at cutting the supply lines between Germany and its army in occupied France.
tag line ( tag lines plural ) , tag-line The tag line of something such as a television commercial or a joke is the phrase that comes at the end and is meant to be amusing or easy to remember. n-count
three-line whip ( three-line whips plural ) A three-line whip is a situation where the MPs in a political party are ordered to attend parliament and vote in a particular way on a particular issue.
unemployment line ( unemployment lines plural ) When people talk about theunemployment line, they are talking about the state of being unemployed, especially when saying how many people are unemployed.
Many white-collar workers, like stock brokers and investment bankers, find themselves in the unemployment lines.
in BRIT, use dole queue
washing line ( washing lines plural ) A washing line is a strong cord which you can hang wet clothes on while they dry. n-count
yellow line ( yellow lines plural ) A yellow line is a narrow yellow line painted at the edge of a road to warn drivers that parking is not allowed there, or is only allowed at certain times. n-count