toe the mark

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toe the mark

To adhere or conform to the rules of something. From now on, I plan to toe the mark and do exactly what Graham tells me, to avoid getting in any more trouble. I expect you to toe the mark at all times if you want to remain at this firm, Jonathan.
See also: mark, toe

toe the mark

 and toe the line
Fig. to do what one is expected to do; to follow the rules. You'll get ahead, Sally. Don't worry. Just toe the mark, and everything will be okay. John finally got fired. He just couldn't learn to toe the line.
See also: mark, toe

toe the line/mark, to

To meet a particular standard; to conform strictly to a rule. The term comes from track, when the runners in a race line up with their toes placed on the starting line or mark. It began to be used figuratively in the early nineteenth century. The OED cites “He began to think it was high time to toe the mark,” from The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan (1813) by “H. Bull-Us.”
See also: line, toe
References in classic literature ?
Five young men toed the mark, crouching with fingertips to the ground and waiting the starter's revolver-shot.
Another quarter of an hour was spent in clearing the track of the excited crowd, and this time only Tim and Red-head toed the mark. The other three young men had abandoned the contest.