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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.
See also: on, toe, tread

tread lightly

1. To walk carefully, so as not to disturb what is underfoot or nearby. This is rare alpine vegetation, so tread lightly. Tread lightly so you don't wake up the baby.
2. To be extra tactful in one's dealing with someone so as not to offend or aggravate. The boss is really irritable today, so if you have bad news for him, tread lightly. Tread lightly if you ask Mrs. Smith for extra credit—she usually gets annoyed with those requests.
See also: lightly, tread

tread on air

To be extremely happy. I've been treading on air ever since I got engaged!
See also: air, on, tread

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.
See also: angel, fear, Fool, rush, tread

step on someone's toes

 and 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.
See also: on, step, toe

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.
See also: on, tread

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.
See also: on, step, toe

tread carefully

also 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.
See also: carefully, tread

tread water

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)
See also: tread, water

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.
See also: eggshell, on, walking

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
See also: on, step, toe

tread the boards

to act in the theatre So you're treading the boards these days, Emma. Earning any money?
See also: board, tread

tread water

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
See also: tread, water

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."
See also: angel, fear, fool, rush, 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]
See also: on, step, toe

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.
See also: board, tread

tread water

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."
See also: tread, water

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).
See also: board, tread

tread water

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.
See also: tread, water
References in periodicals archive ?
If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible during the check then the tread depth may be illegal.
Major points from table of contents for this stair treads market report include:
The bus' tire tread depth measured three-thirty-seconds of an inch - a low but legal depth - when they were last checked in May.
Most new tyres, including Continental, have 8mm of tread and the difference could save your life.
Creating a model predicting the behavior of tire tread mixtures and specifying the characteristics (tensile strength, elongation, tear strength, hardness etc.
Treads and Trails founder Huw Dullea said, "FS4B is excellent at supporting new businesses and the service I received was really good.
The mean value for 12 rectangular treads made of pine was 10,534 MPa, which corresponds to grade K24 for structural timber in the Swedish building code, BKR (Anonymous 1998b).
Even smaller chunks can make the roadwheel unserviceable if they cover more than 20 percent of the tread surface.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tires should be replaced when the tread wears down to 1/16 of an inch, which can be easily measured using a Lincoln penny.
The Altimax RT is a stylish touring tire that delivers a smooth, comfortable ride and long tread life.
This design features a full stair tread with an integrated stair riser for simplified installation and easy maintenance.
Handi-Ramp initially introduced the non-slip treads to commercial and industrial users and they quickly caught the attention of facility management professionals and contractors charged with keeping buildings safe and accessible in all weather conditions.
Early automobile tires used smooth treads that offered little traction.
Thin tire treads create hazardous driving conditions when water builds up on the roadway, according to the Car Care Council.
Cured in circular molds, the rings are concave in profile, following the curvature of the tire casing, and therefore are said to assure perfect, tension-free adhesion, unlike traditional fiat treads.