be on (one's) toes

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be on (one's) toes

To be and remain active, alert, and focused. With two kids under the age of five, you have to be on your toes throughout the day! Their attorney is known for using really deceptive and underhanded tactics, so be on your toes during the trial.
See also: on, toe
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

on one's toes, to be

To be fully alert, ready to act. The metaphor of the dancer or runner poised on tiptoe, prepared to go, has been applied to any kind of readiness since the early twentieth century. John Dos Passos used it in Three Soldiers (1921): “If he just watched out and kept on his toes, he’d be sure to get it.”
See also: on, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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