FILE - A member the China's women's gymnastics team is all set to stay on she toes in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (REUTERS/Dylan Martinez)


Now, that time for the VOA learning English regimen Words and Their Stories.

You are watching: Keep you on your toes

Each week, we check out the meaning of expressions in American English. We regularly take terms and also examine them native head to toe -- looking in ~ each and every detail -- making sure not to overlook anything.

Speaking the toes, stop talk around them because that a minute.

Like the remainder of ours feet, they spend all work stuck inside socks and also shoes. This can’t be great for them. So, let’s take them the end of our shoes, give them a chance to stretch, and also talk around how we usage them in every-day speech.

While listening come this program, you have to stay on her toes. Us will provide one example after another. So, you"ll need to listen carefully or you might miss one.

Staying or maintaining on your toes not only way to salary close attention. The also method to be ready to act. For example, as soon as trying something dangerous, you should keep on her toes. You desire to be prepared for something that may happen.

This expression comes from the fact that once you actually lift her heels and change your weight to the balls of your feet and your toes, girlfriend are ready to jump right into action!

Now, the phrase keeping on her toes is various from tiptoeing around. Her feet room in a comparable position. All her weight is on the balls of your feet. Yet the two expressions have different purposes and also meanings. In fact, they space opposites.

As us said, as soon as you are on her toes, you are ready to take it action. However when stand on your tiptoes, you room not very balanced. You room either make the efforts to make yourself taller to reach something or you are trying to walk an extremely quietly.

So, in American English, to tiptoe approximately something method to avoid an issue or talking about something in an indirect way.

Here’s an instance of this expression.

“At the neighborhood meeting, city public official tiptoed around the worry of violence in institutions for as well long. Parents involved the conference to hear solutions and also not evasive language.”

Now, toe are vital when we walk. They assist us keep our balance. But they are good at other else.

Imagine a person running as much as a lake or the s to take a swim. Part brave civilization might simply jump appropriate in. They don’t care how cold the water is. Others might want to test the water temperature first. So, they put a toes in the water prior to jumping in.

There space other cases where you must put your toes in the water prior to jumping best in.

Before relocating to a new city or perhaps beginning a new job, you need to do some severe thinking. When some human being start a job, they might want come jump right in. Yet others move much more slowly so as to avoid any unnecessary risk. Unsure about how their abilities measure up in the workplace, lock tiptoe about co-workers. Or lock are mindful to prevent politically divisive or touchy subjects.

Working in this way, brand-new employees won"t do anyone angry. Castle won"t step top top anyone"s toes.

Now, once you actually action on someone’s toes, most civilization simply apologize and that will certainly be that. But stepping top top someone’s toes in the idiomatic feeling is much more serious. It way you have done other on function to offend someone else.

But stepping ~ above a co-worker"s toe is not the worst point you have the right to do. If you go toe-to-toe with someone – that deserve to be much worse!

Well, actually, the depends.

Toe-to-toe has actually two meanings: to it is in in straight competition v someone or come fight v someone. So, walk toe-to-toe with a co-worker in a friendly, yet competitive way is fine. In fact, employees are regularly expected to compete with one another in the workplace. If you are sure in her abilities, you are not fear to walk toe-to-toe v anyone.

However, walk toe-to-toe through a co-worker by having actually a fight or dispute with lock is not a an excellent idea.

The company might fire one or both workers! at the really least going-toe-to-toe can create a complicated work environment. So, occasionally it"s a an excellent idea to toe the line when you start working a brand-new job. Just follow the rules and also do your ideal not to action on anyone"s toes.

Some native English speaker think this expression starts with the verb “tow,” definition to pull. It"s not tough to recognize why. We regularly tow things with a line of rope. Yet in this expression, the word "toe" is spelled t-o-e -- no t-o-w.

Word historians have attempted to describe the beginning of this expression. Some claim it originates from the sports of boxing. In the boxing ring, fighters space so close come each various other that your toes seem to touch.

However, the one story the connects most closely with adhering to the rules is native boating.

Some world say that in the 19th century, sailors faced punishment if they did not obey shipping rules. Come prepare, crew members would certainly stand in a line v their toes top top a crack, or line, between the wood boards that make up the deck that the ship.

And that’s Words and Their Stories for this week. Thanks for listening.

We expect you found these expressions useful. Us avoided using them in story that could make your toes curl. After ~ all, if you feeling uneasy and uncomfortable, you most likely won"t come back for more.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

See more: London Closes 500 Churches, 500 Churches Turned Into Mosques In A City

And i’m Anna Matteo.

Tiptoe by the windowBy the window, that is whereby I"ll end up being tiptoe through the tulips through me

Oh, tiptoe through the gardenBy the garden that the willow treeCome tiptoe through the tulips v me …

Anna Matteo wrote this for VOA finding out English. George prosper was the editor. At the finish of the audio story, tiny Tim sings "Tiptoe through the Tulips."


Words in This Story

evasive adj. not moral or direct

idiomatic adj. an expression that cannot be construed from the meanings of its different words however that has a separate definition of that own

fire v. to dismiss indigenous employment

deck n. a level surface that creates the main external floor that a boat or ship

curl v. to twist or kind (something) into a round or curved shape : to become curved or rounded