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tread on (someone's) toes

To insult, offend, or upset someone, especially by involving oneself in that which is someone else's responsibility. I want to help Johnny out on his project, but I know he's very proud, and I don't want to tread on his toes in any way. Look, you're going to have to tread on a few peoples' toes if you want to get ahead in this business.
See also: on, toe, tread

tread lightly

1. To walk carefully, so as not to disturb what is underfoot or nearby. This is rare alpine vegetation, so tread lightly. Tread lightly so you don't wake up the baby.
2. To be extra tactful in one's dealing with someone so as not to offend or aggravate. The boss is really irritable today, so if you have bad news for him, tread lightly. Tread lightly if you ask Mrs. Smith for extra credit—she usually gets annoyed with those requests.
See also: lightly, tread

tread on air

To be extremely happy. I've been treading on air ever since I got engaged!
See also: air, on, tread

tread carefully

To delicately handle or approach a situation in order not to upset or worsen the current circumstances, which may be precarious. Tread carefully when you ask Mom whether she's going to the party. She's been acting weird about it. We need to start treading carefully when it comes to our diplomacy—we can't afford to alienate any allies.
See also: carefully, tread

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Prov. Foolish people usually do not understand when a situation is dangerous, so they are not afraid to do things that would frighten more sensible people. Alan: Bob is too scared to go in and confront the boss, so I'm going to. Jane: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
See also: angel, fear, Fool, rush, tread

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

tread (up)on someone or something

to walk or step on someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on. Step is more common than tread.) Don't tread on Sam, who is napping under the tree. Please don't tread on the freshly shampooed carpeting on the stairs.
See also: on, tread

fools rush in where angels fear to tread

Ignorant or inexperienced individuals get involved in situations that wiser persons would avoid, as in I've never heard this symphony and here I am conducting it-oh well, fools rush in where angels fear to tread , or He tried to mediate their unending argument-fools rush in. This expression, so well known it is sometimes shortened as in the second example, is a quotation from Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism (1709): "No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd ... Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead; For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
See also: angel, fear, fool, rush, tread

step on someone's toes

Also, tread on someone's toes. Hurt or offend someone. For example, Be careful what you say about her losing weight; don't step on her toes, or Would I be stepping on someone's toes if I asked to help out with the party arrangements? This metaphoric idiom transfers physical to emotional pain. [Late 1300s]
See also: on, step, toe

tread the boards

Act on the stage, as in Her main ambition was to tread the boards in a big city. This idiom uses boards in the sense of "a theatrical stage," a usage dating from the mid-1700s. It dates from the mid-1800s but was preceded by the idiom tread the stage, first recorded in 1691.
See also: board, tread

tread water

Expend effort that maintains one's status but does not make much progress toward a goal, as in He was just treading water from paycheck to paycheck. This idiom alludes to the term's literal meaning, that is, "keep one's head above water by remaining upright and pumping the legs."
See also: tread, water

be treading on eggshells


be walking on eggshells

If you are treading on eggshells or are walking on eggshells, you are being extremely careful about what you say or do because you do not want to upset or offend someone. She was so easily offended, I felt as if I was treading on eggshells the whole time. Everyone was walking on eggshells around him, just not knowing what his reaction was going to be. Note: You can also say that someone is treading on eggs or is walking on eggs. Living with you is like treading on eggs.
See also: eggshell, on, tread

fools rush in where angels fear to tread


fools rush in

People say fools rush in where angels fear to tread or fools rush in to mean that stupid people often do or say things without thinking enough about them first. `Sometimes I stop and think, Good God, how did I get into this,' she says with a laugh. `Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.' That was something none of the three of us would have dared to say. Fools rush in... Note: This expression is often varied, especially by using other words instead of fools and angels. Amateurs rush in where professionals fear to tread. Note: This proverb comes from Alexander Pope's `An Essay on Criticism' (1711).
See also: angel, fear, fool, rush, tread

walk a fine line between something


tread a fine line between something

If someone walks a fine line between two activities or situations, or treads a fine line between them, what they are doing is acceptable, but they are very close to the point at which it would become unacceptable. At present we are walking a very fine line between getting away with it and having a very serious problem. The American will tread a fine line between freshness and a shortage of match fitness. Note: You can also say that you walk or tread a thin line between two things or that you walk or tread a narrow line between them. He must tread a narrow line between investigation of his party's mistakes and charges of disloyalty. Compare with a fine line between something.
See also: fine, line, something, walk

step on someone's toes


tread on someone's toes

COMMON If you step on someone's toes or tread on their toes, you offend them by interfering in something that is their responsibility. `Small shopkeepers know who sells what,' Sue explains, `so they don't step on one another's toes.' She's already seeing Dr Simmonds — I can't tread on his toes. Note: You can also say that someone steps on toes or treads on toes. It was no wonder, with such a complicated system, that I was stepping on toes from morning to night.
See also: on, step, toe

tread water

COMMON If you tread water, you fail to make progress, but instead just continue to do the same things. I feel as if I've actually taken a step forward, and that I'm not just treading water. Without any hope of promotion, I feel I'm just treading water. Note: When swimmers tread water, they move their arms and legs in order to keep their head above the water without actually making progress in any direction.
See also: tread, water

tread (or walk) the boards

appear on stage as an actor. informal
See also: board, tread

fools rush in where angels fear to tread

people without good sense or judgement will have no hesitation in tackling a situation that even the wisest would avoid. proverb
See also: angel, fear, fool, rush, tread

tread tackie

drive or accelerate.
1989 Daily Dispatch By the time they finally trod tackie on the road out, a full week had gone by.
Tackies are plimsolls. The origin of the word is uncertain, though there may be a connection with the English adjective tacky , meaning ‘slightly sticky’, perhaps referring to the effect of extreme heat on the plimsolls' rubber soles.
See also: tackie, tread

tread (or step) on someone's toes

offend someone, especially by encroaching on their privileges.
See also: on, toe, tread

tread water

1 maintain an upright position in the water by moving the feet with a walking movement and the hands with a downward circular motion. 2 fail to advance or make progress.
2 1996 Financial Post The NAPM index…has been treading water since the spring, and that is making a lot of people nervous.
See also: tread, water

tread/walk a fine/thin ˈline

be in a difficult or dangerous situation where you could easily make a mistake: He was walking a fine line between being funny and being rude.
See also: fine, line, thin, tread, 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

ˌtread the ˈboards

(humorous) be an actor: He has recently been treading the boards in a new play at the National.
The boards refers to the stage of a theatre.
See also: board, tread

tread ˈcarefully, ˈwarily, etc.

be very careful about what you do or say: The government will have to tread very carefully in handling this issue. OPPOSITE: throw caution to the wind(s)
See also: tread

tread a difficult, solitary, etc. ˈpath

choose and follow a particular way of life, way of doing something, etc: A restaurant has to tread the tricky path between maintaining quality and keeping prices down.
See also: path, tread

ˌtread on somebody’s ˈheels

follow somebody closely: In the end she left the meeting room, with her assistant treading hard on her heels.
See also: heel, on, tread

ˌtread on somebody’s ˈtoes

(especially British English) (American English usually ˌstep on somebody’s ˈtoes) (informal) offend or annoy somebody, especially by getting involved in something that is their responsibility: Now that we have proper job descriptions we are less likely to tread on each other’s toes.
See also: on, toe, tread

ˌtread ˈwater

1 keep yourself upright in deep water by moving your arms and legs
2 make no progress while you are waiting for something to happen: For the past year I’ve been treading water, in a boring job with no hope of promotion.
See also: tread, water

tread the boards

To act on the stage: "We who tread the boards are not the only players of parts in this world" (John Fowles).
See also: board, tread

tread water

1. To keep the head above water while in an upright position by pumping the legs.
2. To expend effort but make little or no progress to achievement of a goal or an end.
See also: tread, water
References in periodicals archive ?
If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible during the check then the tread depth may be illegal.
Major points from table of contents for this stair treads market report include:
The bus' tire tread depth measured three-thirty-seconds of an inch - a low but legal depth - when they were last checked in May.
Most new tyres, including Continental, have 8mm of tread and the difference could save your life.
Creating a model predicting the behavior of tire tread mixtures and specifying the characteristics (tensile strength, elongation, tear strength, hardness etc.
Treads and Trails founder Huw Dullea said, "FS4B is excellent at supporting new businesses and the service I received was really good.
The mean value for 12 rectangular treads made of pine was 10,534 MPa, which corresponds to grade K24 for structural timber in the Swedish building code, BKR (Anonymous 1998b).
Even smaller chunks can make the roadwheel unserviceable if they cover more than 20 percent of the tread surface.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tires should be replaced when the tread wears down to 1/16 of an inch, which can be easily measured using a Lincoln penny.
The Altimax RT is a stylish touring tire that delivers a smooth, comfortable ride and long tread life.
This design features a full stair tread with an integrated stair riser for simplified installation and easy maintenance.
Handi-Ramp initially introduced the non-slip treads to commercial and industrial users and they quickly caught the attention of facility management professionals and contractors charged with keeping buildings safe and accessible in all weather conditions.
Early automobile tires used smooth treads that offered little traction.
Thin tire treads create hazardous driving conditions when water builds up on the roadway, according to the Car Care Council.
Cured in circular molds, the rings are concave in profile, following the curvature of the tire casing, and therefore are said to assure perfect, tension-free adhesion, unlike traditional fiat treads.