Learning the ropes

learning the ropes meaning

Photo credit: toledozoo.org

The past couple of weeks have been really hectic – I’ve been trying to finish translation of the third book on time, then I went to Amsterdam on a short break and now it’s more or less back to normal. So yesterday I was my volunteering day and I met a new colleague\volunteer from Australia. It was her first day, and using the till might be a bit a tricky (it still occasionally beeps at me when I press the wrong button), so she was sometimes saying to customers ‘Bear with me, it’s my first day and I’m still learning the ropes‘.

It’s a fairly common expression, but it’s so useful in a situation when you’re new to something and want other people to be a bit more understanding and patient.

Some examples:

– It didn’t take her new assistant long to learn the ropes (MacMillan Dictionary).

– It’s never too late to change direction. However it’s not really possible to break into new sectors without any effort. You’re likely to need to retrain or, at least, take on a lenghty internship to learn the ropes (The Guardian).

– What about businessmen’s political naivety? As might be expected of an education reformer, Sir Ron Dearing suggests apprenticeships. He argues that Lord Young, a cabinet minister recruited by Margaret Thatcher, made a smoother transformation from business to politics because he made an effort to learn the ropes (The Economist).

– Thus as the idea of finding talented employees who could quickly learn the ropes took off, so did the asking price of the star MBA graduates (The Economist).

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