step on toes

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step on (someone's) toes

To insult, offend, or upset someone, especially by getting involved in something that is their responsibility. I want to help John out on his project, but I know it's his baby, so I don't want to step on his toes in any way. Look, you're going to have to step on a few peoples' toes if you want to get ahead in this business.
See also: on, step, toe

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

step/tread on someone's toes, to

To insult or offend someone. The analogy between physical and emotional pain here is obvious. H. G. Bohn’s Handbook of Proverbs (1855) stated, “Never tread on a sore toe,” which no doubt would hurt still more. The precise expression appeared in Anthony Trollope’s novel The Belton Estate (1866): “‘But you mustn’t offend my father.’—‘I won’t tread on his toes.’”
See also: on, step, tread