fun with phrases

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 21 00:52:22 UTC 2011

Jonathan Lighter wrote
> "to walk a tight-rope"
> To balance one's actions or policy delicately (between dangerously
> contending forces or ideas).
> OED sort of has this in its cite blocks s.v."tight-rope," but not till the '50s.
> 1936 Mark Sullivan in _Oakland Tribune_ (Aug. 21) 29 [NewspArch]:
> Until after the election, the administration policy is to walk a tight
> rope between the contending organizations.

Here is "walking a tight rope" in 1919 with the figurative sense that
you mention.

Cite: 1919, "The Russian Pendulum: Autocracy - Democracy - Bolshivism"
by Arthur Bullard, Page 172, Macmillan Compnany, New York. (Google
Books full view)

If he definitely committed himself to the Left, there would be danger
of a new "Cossack Conspiracy." He has successfully performed the
difficult feat of walking a tight rope. Up to the present he has kept
the two very jealous factions from fighting. How long he can continue
to avoid taking sides is, of course uncertain.

The American Dialect Society -

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