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walk a tightrope

Fig. to be in a situation where one must be very cautious. I've been walking a tightrope all day. I need to relax. Our business is about to fail. We've been walking a tightrope for three months.
See also: tightrope, walk

walk a tightrope

Also, be on a tightrope. Take or be on a very precarious course, as in A university press must walk a tightrope to publish scholarly books and still make money , or The general was on a tightrope as to whether he should advance or retreat. This idiom transfers the balancing act performed by tightrope or high-wire acrobats to other concerns. [First half of 1900s]
See also: tightrope, walk

be walking a tightrope

COMMON If someone is walking a tightrope, they are in a difficult situation where a small mistake could cause failure, especially because they are trying to deal with two opposing things or groups of people. He is walking a tightrope between the young activists and the more traditional members within the democracy movement. He knows he is walking a tightrope on just how big his company can grow before the public turns against it. Note: You can call someone's attempt to deal with this type of situation a tightrope walk. The strategy is something of a tightrope walk.
See also: tightrope, walking

tread/walk a ˈtightrope


be on a ˈtightrope

be in a situation where you must act very carefully: I’m walking a tightrope at the moment; one more mistake and I might lose my job.
A tightrope is a rope high up in the air that an acrobat walks along at a circus.
See also: tightrope, tread, walk
References in periodicals archive ?
Well, in 1861 Blondin came to England, performing at several high profile venues, including at London's Crystal Palace where he would perform somersaults on stilts on a tightrope.
A dozen other tightrope walkers have crossed the Niagara Gorge, including the legendary Great Blondin, but none have tried to cross the Falls themselves.
It's a joy to be up on the tightrope and show people what I can do.
The fearless funambulist has in the past walked a tightrope between the masts of a ship, and scaled the Cathedral of Albi in southern France - the world's largest brick building.
So far, the key to independence, success and even survival has been for all of them, but especially Kazakhstan, the ability to stay on that swaying, potentially perilous tightrope, neither alienating one side nor the other.
Walking a Tightrope begins with a poem, "Goodbye, Wild Indian," by Lenore Keeship-Tobias, in which she expresses the hope that negative stereotypes of Canada's Indigenous people will soon vanish.
With considerable agility, she balances on the tightrope between asserting the power of race in society and acknowledging that forces other than race may be at work--although those forces are often obscured in the long shadow of race.
A kind of tightrope walk where the line between inclusion and exclusion can be tenuous.
And it is, of course, no coincidence that Doig chose exactly this scene from a film that, in its pronounced reflection on genre and media, walked an idiosyncratic tightrope between independent and Hollywood film, thus constantly negating the possibility of an "authentic" image.
England World Cup hero Neil Back may find himself walking a disciplinary tightrope when he reports for Lions duty on Tuesday.
Would you expect that a lower or higher center of gravity would lead to better balance for a biker, or even a tightrope walker?
In Parallax, MacKenzie orchestrates a sumptuous, stunning collage of moving images and sound that walks a tightrope between control and chance, order and chaos, permanency and change--reminding us of the fragile, ephemeral nature of film and ultimately, of course, of life itself.
Teaching a group of young people is always a tightrope walk.
Pa is the preacher, but June is the highlight, because she "walks on air" on a tightrope, drawing the attention of the audience.
It's like watching an experienced tightrope walker, who teeters thrillingly and teasingly on the brink, yet somehow you know that they aren't going to fall off.