a fine line

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a fine line

A very narrow division between two deceptively similar things, one of which is worse than the other. As a new parent, you learn that there's a fine line between looking out for your child's welfare and being overprotective. A: "I only borrowed your sweater, I swear!" B: "Well, it's a fine line between borrowing and stealing, isn't it?"
See also: fine, line

a fine line between something

COMMON If there is a fine line between two different activities or situations, there is a point at which they are very similar, often when one activity or situation is acceptable, and the other is not. There is a fine line between being nicely looked after and being fussed over too much. A new exhibition explores the fine line between genius and insanity. Note: You can also talk about a thin line between two things or a narrow line between two things. There is a thin line between being a good player and being one of the best. There's a narrow line between being interested and being nosy. Compare with walk a fine line between something.
See also: between, fine, line, something
References in periodicals archive ?
His biggest challenge is keeping intact the fine line between reality and fiction.
Decrying the complicity of legal norms with the violence inflicted by empires and colonization, Between Equal Rights weighs Marxism against mercantile colonialism, sovereignty, the fine line between imposing imperial will and "police actions", and much more.
In the Philadelphia Inquirer of April 21, a Catholic University professor, John Kenneth White, is quoted as saying that Bush is "coming to the very edge" of the "very fine line between church and state.
There is a fine line between being judgmental and being helpful, and this is a line Lucy crosses at times, causing a lot of friction.
There is a very fine line between showing a seriousness of intent and conveying the impression that you are going to war no matter what happens, and that fine line should not be crossed," warned a UN official.
The thirteenth film by the director of such previous international hits as Dark Habits (1983), Matador (1986), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), and most recently Live Flesh (1997), All About My Mother walks the fine line between melodrama and farce, blending these warring genres with such finesse that it won Almodovar the Best Director nod at Cannes last May.
Gill emphasized there is a fine line between legal costs that are and are not included and advised a close reading of the final statement.
There's a fine line between reality and fantasy sometimes, as evidenced by such strange oddities as the Rock Creek Lodge Testicle Festival, rock musician Marilyn Manson, and individuals who lead peculiar lives.
LeKay has said that he works "on the fine line where something can be really awful or really beautiful," a statement reminiscent of Nigel Tufnell's wisdom in This Is Spinal Tap (1984): "there's a fine line between being clever and being really stupid.