heels of, at/on the

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heels of, at/on the

Close behind; closely following. Although these two clichés are very similar, they are not wholly interchangeable. To be at someone’s heels is to be immediately behind, with the implication of chasing or otherwise harrying the person. To be on the heels of someone (or something) means to be following in quick succession (but not necessarily catching or overtaking). Both terms conjure up the idea of a dog being at one’s heels, and both are quite old. John Gower wrote in 1390, “There bene also somme as men sale that folwen Simon ate heles.” And Shakespeare wrote, “One woe doth tread upon another’s heel, so fast they follow” (Hamlet, 4.7).
See also: heel, on
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in classic literature ?
As to the first, you are to understand, that for about seventy moons past there have been two struggling parties in this empire, under the names of TRAMECKSAN and SLAMECKSAN, from the high and low heels of their shoes, by which they distinguish themselves.
Too oft, verily, did I follow close to the heels of truth: then did it kick me on the face.
Dorothy now took Toto up solemnly in her arms, and having said one last good-bye she clapped the heels of her shoes together three times, saying:
The start-up company Day2Night Convertible Heels of Boston could be just your ticket.
Heels of different heights are stored in a small case.
To investigate the association between high heels and its effect on calf muscles, researchers from Austria followed 80 women aged 20 to 50 years, who had been wearing heels of at least two inches almost daily for the last two years or more.
Barkema selected heels of three different heights- flat, two inches, and 3.5 inches- and had each of the 15 women in her study complete walking trials.
The defensive lineman must penetrate to the heels of the offensive line or deeper to reestablish the line of scrimmage.
Remember, it's important to reestablish the line of scrimmage and have your defensive linemen play on the heels of the offensive line.