step/tread on someone's toes, to

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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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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