I want to know when the phrase learn the ropes was first used?
closed as off-topic by Cascabel, Drew, user66974, Rory Alsop, Wrzlprmft Jan 29 '17 at 10:56
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Phrase Finder gives the following:
know the ropes
To understand how to do something. To be acquainted with all the methods required.
There is some doubt about the origin of this phrase. It may well have a nautical origin. Sailors had to learn which rope raised which sail and also had to learn a myriad of knots. There is also a suggestion that it comes from the world of the theatre, where ropes are used to raise scenery etc.
The first citation comes in Richard H. Dana Jr's Two years before the mast, 1840:
"The captain, who had been on the coast before and 'knew the ropes,' took the steering oar"