Nepalese climbers (sense 1) Chhiring Dorje (left) and Temba Tsheri at the top of Denali, Alaska, U.S.A.
British professional cyclist Chris Froome, who is regarded as a climber (sense 1.3), during the 2017 Tour de France.
Children playing on a climber (sense 2.1).

Etymology 1


From Middle English climber, clymber, clymbare (one who climbs, climber),[1] from climben (to climb; to ascend, fly upward, rise; to slope upwards; to approach God in prayer; to advance; to overcome, triumph; to aspire; to be presumptuous)[2] + -er, -ere (suffix forming agent nouns).[3] The English word is analysable as climb (verb) +‎ -er (suffix forming agent nouns).[4]



climber (plural climbers)

  1. Someone or something that climbs (such as a mountain climber).
    1. (botany) A plant such as a vine that climbs upwards as it grows by attaching itself to some support.
      Synonym: creeper
    2. (cycle racing) A cyclist who specializes in riding especially well on steep hills or roads.
    3. (figuratively, derogatory) A person who is constantly trying to get ahead socially.
      • 1977 August 20, Robert Etherington, “John Horne Burns and His Enemies”, in Gay Community News, volume 5, number 7, page 10:
        His mother was a climber, determined that her children should attend the right schools and generally succeed in what was still very much a WASP world.
      Synonym: social climber
    4. (ornithology) A bird that climbs, such as a parrot or woodpecker; specifically (archaic), a bird having two toes pointing forward, and two pointing backward, formerly regarded as being from the order Scansores or Zygodactyli (now obsolete as the birds formerly in this order have been reclassified into different orders); a zygodactyl.
  2. Something that is used for climbing.
    1. (chiefly Canada) Any structure on a playground designed to be climbed on.
      • 2016 September 28, Megan Gambino, “King of the Playground, Spencer Luckey, Builds Climbers That Are Engineering Marvels”, in Smithsonian Magazine[1], archived from the original on 2022-12-10:
        If his greatest hits are museum climbers that complement the subject matter in surrounding exhibits, then "the mall jobs," he says, which are more about color and composition, "are little ditties."
      • 2019 May 13, “Eastview Community Park wants your input for new playground”, in Guelph Today[2], archived from the original on 2023-03-04:
        Regardless of the design, the playground will include a traditional climber with a ramp, an upper-level climber, multiple climbing and balance opportunities, junior slides, two senior slides, a wheelchair accessible bouncing glider, a pull along slide, activity panels, a freestanding climber and swings.
      • 2019 June 4, Travis Paterson, “Monterey installs playground climber to kids’ delight”, in Victoria News[3], archived from the original on 2021-12-06:
        Students raced in a swarm to be the first to the top of Monterey middle school’s newest piece of playground equipment, a $50,000 climber, when principal Ken Andrews removed the yellow tape on Friday.
      • 2022 July 13, Nixon Norman, quoting Jessica Berkholtz, “Cove Universal Playground receives exciting and inclusive new additions”, in WZDX[4], archived from the original on 2022-08-11:
        We've been working for the past year to bring an inclusive zipline and a spinning rope climber to the playground!
      • 2022 September 26, “New playground installed at Errington Community Park”, in CHEK News[5], archived from the original on 2022-10-07:
        The new playground, which is made of wood, features a climber, swings, a sand play area with a play hut and digging toys.
    2. (climbing) Synonym of climbing iron (a kind of crampon attached to the shoe to aid with climbing)
Derived terms

Etymology 2


From climb +‎ -er (frequentative suffix); or a blend of climb +‎ clamber.[5]



climber (third-person singular simple present climbers, present participle climbering, simple past and past participle climbered)

  1. (intransitive, obsolete) To ascend or mount with effort; to clamber, to climb.


  1. ^ clī̆mber, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ clī̆mben, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  3. ^ -ē̆r(e, suf.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ climber, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; climber, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  5. ^ † climber, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021.

Further reading