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Related to treading: treading water
tread on (someone's) toes
To insult, offend, or upset someone, especially by involving oneself in that which is someone else's responsibility. I want to help Johnny out on his project, but I know he's very proud, and I don't want to tread on his toes in any way. Look, you're going to have to tread on a few peoples' toes if you want to get ahead in this business.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Prov. Foolish people usually do not understand when a situation is dangerous, so they are not afraid to do things that would frighten more sensible people. Alan: Bob is too scared to go in and confront the boss, so I'm going to. Jane: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
step on someone's toesand tread on someone's toes
1. Lit. to step down onto someone's toes, causing pain. Please don't step on my toes as you walk by.
2. Fig. to offend or insult someone, as if causing physical pain. You're sure I won't be stepping on her toes if I talk directly to her supervisor? I didn't mean to tread on your toes.
tread (up)on someone or something
to walk or step on someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on. Step is more common than tread.) Don't tread on Sam, who is napping under the tree. Please don't tread on the freshly shampooed carpeting on the stairs.
step on (somebody's) toes
to upset someone, esp. by getting involved in something that is their responsibility It's hard to make changes in the department without stepping on a lot of toes. He's willing to step on toes to get things done.
tread carefullyalso tread warily
to avoid saying or doing anything that could cause difficulties Some companies continue to tread carefully when doing business on the Internet.
Usage notes: sometimes used in the form tread cautiously: You should tread cautiously when discussing financial matters with him.
to be active but without making progress or falling farther behind Sales are about the same as last year, and the company is pretty much treading water.Related vocabulary: mark time
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of tread water (to stay in one place in water by moving your legs quickly)
be walking/treading on eggshells
if you are walking on eggshells, you are trying very hard not to upset someone
Usage notes: An eggshell is the hard outside covering of an egg which breaks very easily.It was like walking on eggshells with my father. The smallest thing would make him angry.
step/tread on somebody's toes
to say or do something which upsets someone, especially by becoming involved in something which is their responsibility I'd like to make some changes to the working procedures, but I don't want to tread on anyone's toes.See keep on toes
tread the boards
to act in the theatre So you're treading the boards these days, Emma. Earning any money?
someone who is treading water is not doing anything to make progress (often in continuous tenses) I'm just treading water until I get an opportunity to try for a job with more responsibility.See step on toes
fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Ignorant or inexperienced individuals get involved in situations that wiser persons would avoid, as in I've never heard this symphony and here I am conducting it-oh well, fools rush in where angels fear to tread , or He tried to mediate their unending argument-fools rush in. This expression, so well known it is sometimes shortened as in the second example, is a quotation from Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism (1709): "No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd ... Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead; For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
step on someone's toes
Also, tread on someone's toes. Hurt or offend someone. For example, Be careful what you say about her losing weight; don't step on her toes, or Would I be stepping on someone's toes if I asked to help out with the party arrangements? This metaphoric idiom transfers physical to emotional pain. [Late 1300s]
tread the boards
Act on the stage, as in Her main ambition was to tread the boards in a big city. This idiom uses boards in the sense of "a theatrical stage," a usage dating from the mid-1700s. It dates from the mid-1800s but was preceded by the idiom tread the stage, first recorded in 1691.
Expend effort that maintains one's status but does not make much progress toward a goal, as in He was just treading water from paycheck to paycheck. This idiom alludes to the term's literal meaning, that is, "keep one's head above water by remaining upright and pumping the legs."
tread the boards
To act on the stage: "We who tread the boards are not the only players of parts in this world" (John Fowles).
1. To keep the head above water while in an upright position by pumping the legs.
2. To expend effort but make little or no progress to achievement of a goal or an end.