limb

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*out on a limb

 
1. Lit. out on a limb of a tree where it is dangerous. (*Typically: be ~; go ~.) It's okay to climb the tree, but don't go out on a limb and fall off.
2. Fig. in a dangerous position to do something; at risk. (*Typically: be ~; go ~; put someone ~.) I don't want to go out on a limb, but I think we can afford to do it. If I had to go out on a limb, I would say that it will be a month before your merchandise will be delivered.
See also: limb, on, out

tear (someone or some animal) limb from limb

to rip someone or an animal to bits. The explosion tore the workers limb from limb. The crocodiles attacked the wading zebras and tore them limb from limb.
See also: limb, tear

life and limb

continued existence or serious injury These skiers risk life and limb every day for the thrill of a super-fast downhill run. The storms across the west are posing a threat to life and limb.
Usage notes: used when talking about situations in which someone could die or be injured, as in the examples
See also: and, life, limb

out on a limb

in a situation where you lack support He was pretty far out on a limb when he predicted the future of the industry two years ago.
Usage notes: often used with go: I'll go out on a limb and pick the Panthers to win on Sunday.
See also: limb, on, out

tear somebody limb from limb

to attack someone violently I'm sure she'd tear the guy limb from limb for what he's done.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of tear someone limb from limb (to pull someone's arms and legs off)
See also: limb, tear

be out on a limb

alone and lacking support from other people Because we're geographically so far removed from the main office, we do sometimes feel as if we're out on a limb.
See also: limb, on, out

go out on a limb

if you go out on a limb, you state an opinion or you do something which is very different to most other people I don't think we're going out on a limb in claiming that global warming is a problem that must be addressed. Rob Thompson, the producer, admits the series is going out on a limb in that it is quite different to anything else currently on television.
See tear limb from limb
See also: limb, on, out

risk life and limb

to do something very dangerous where you might get hurt These skiers risk life and limb every day for the thrill of speed.
See also: and, life, limb, risk

tear somebody limb from limb

to attack someone violently I'm sure if she got hold of the guy she'd tear him limb from limb.
See also: limb, tear

out on a limb

In a difficult, awkward, or vulnerable position, as in I lodged a complaint about low salaries, but the people who had supported me left me out on a limb . This expression alludes to an animal climbing out on the limb of a tree and then being afraid or unable to retreat. [Late 1800s]
See also: limb, on, out

risk life and limb

Also, risk one's neck. Take dangerous chances, as in There he was on the roof, risking life and limb to rescue the kitten, or I don't want to risk my neck contradicting him. The first hyperbolic expression, dating from the early 1600s, doesn't make sense, since if one loses one's life one also loses the use of one's limbs. The variant, used for risky undertakings of all kinds, physical and nonphysical, presumably alludes to being hanged or beheaded. Also see stick one's neck out.
See also: and, life, limb, risk

(out) on a limb

Informal
In a difficult, awkward, or vulnerable position.
See also: limb, on
References in classic literature ?
In the mean time I cautiously transferred myself from the limb down which I had been slipping to a couple of others that were near it, deeming two strings to my bow better than one, and taking care to test their strength before I trusted my weight to them.
Toby's animating 'come on' again sounded in my ears, and dreading to lose all confidence in myself if I remained meditating upon the step, I once more gazed down to assure myself of the relative bearing of the tree and my own position, and then closing my eyes and uttering one comprehensive ejaculation of prayer, I inclined myself over towards the abyss, and after one breathless instant fell with a crash into the tree, the branches snapping and cracking with my weight, as I sunk lower and lower among them, until I was stopped by coming in contact with a sturdy limb.
Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, "I want you to work your way out upon that limb as far as you can.
Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far - tis dead limb putty much all de way.
Together we wormed our way along the waving pathway, but when we reached the end of the branch we found that our combined weight so depressed the limb that the cave's mouth was now too far above us to be reached.
We finally agreed that Tars Tarkas should return along the branch, leaving his longest leather harness strap with me, and that when the limb had risen to a height that would permit me to enter the cave I was to do so, and on Tars Tarkas' return I could then lower the strap and haul him up to the safety of the ledge.
If we suppose that the ancient progenitor, the archetype as it may be called, of all mammals, had its limbs constructed on the existing general pattern, for whatever purpose they served, we can at once perceive the plain signification of the homologous construction of the limbs throughout the whole class.
The anterior and posterior limbs in each member of the vertebrate and articulate classes are plainly homologous.
Tarzan seized and broke a small tree limb, and at the sudden cracking sound the ponderous figure halted.
I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch --the miserable monster whom I had created.
You got to find out where the shadow of the limb falls at midnight, and that's where you dig
Even before the rending sound which followed Meriem knew that she had misjudged the strength of the limb.
Our dear companion Will Stutely hath been taken by that vile Sheriff's men, therefore doth it behoove us to take bow and brand in hand to bring him off again; for I wot that we ought to risk life and limb for him, as he hath risked life and limb for us.
But my mother swung over the top of a thick limb, a dozen feet from the ground, and, still holding on to her, we perched there in safety.
ONE day an Opossum who had gone to sleep hanging from the highest branch of a tree by the tail, awoke and saw a large Snake wound about the limb, between him and the trunk of the tree.