tread/walk a tightrope

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walk a tightrope

To do something that requires extreme care and precision; to navigate a situation that allows very little or no error. Since there's been talk of layoffs, I've been walking a tightrope at work to prove how valuable I am.
See also: tightrope, walk

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

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 ?
He has to tread a tightrope as he is employed not only by Birmingham, but also by Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Telford, but he and his team must have the confidence to put their foot down and make sure that the new city region speaks with one voice both in Westminster and Brussels.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten cautioned: "The Home Secretary will have to tread a tightrope between sensible measures to tackle terrorism without breaking long-held principles that underpin our liberty.
Elizabeth Magill's paintings tread a tightrope as light and cobwebby as the tangle of overhead wires which forms the subject of one of them.