1. The debate will ratchet up a notch on Wednesday when the Commission publishes its report.

  2. Lets take this down a notch

I've stumbled upon lots of sentences and speeches which use this confusing word

  • 2
    The figure of speech involves a ratchet mechanism. technologystudent.com/cams/ratch1.htm The gaps between the "teeth" of the ratchet wheel are the "notches". You can understand the phrase up a notch to mean "increment by one notch". Compare: Raise the ladder up a foot.
    – TimR
    Nov 6, 2017 at 11:28
  • @ Tᴚoɯɐuo thank you br.but the second sentence ??? Nov 6, 2017 at 12:25
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    What about it? down a notch? It is the same figure of speech. Let's decrement this by one notch. Let's make this situation less excited or less tense or less angry or less {x}. The meaning would depend on context.
    – TimR
    Nov 6, 2017 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


A notch is a small, shallow cut into something.

Because small, shallow cuts into things are often used to mark or divide things, notch can also mean the mark or division, which can strongly imply the level/amount of thing marked.

For example, the lines on the side of a measuring cup could be called notches, and notch may strongly imply the specific level of liquid in the cup when it reaches that notch.

Dials on machines and devices often have lines that indicate the level of something, and these can be called notches.

So "moving something up/down a notch" somewhat draws on this imagery and can mean to do something to increase/decrease the intensity of something else.

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