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"Fine Line"

Posted by Henry on March 16, 2004

In Reply to: "Fine Line" posted by Kerrie Hoskins on March 16, 2004

: As in " Walking a fine line." - Does anyone know the origin of this phrase?

From the archives;
: : Hi, I'm new here. Can you tell the meaning of "walk a fine line"? I encountered this in a newspaper this morning, and I couldn't find it in the dictionary. Thanks.
: It means to steer a risky and difficult course between two policies... to be so near the edge of one that you risk falling into another less desirable one. All of which is a pretty unclear definition, so maybe an example might help.
: "With his current policy approach towards Iraq, President Bush walks a fine line between the interests of national security and those of warmongering."
: The metaphor's from tightrope walking, I'd guess.

We've looked at the meaning of this before, but I don't think we've established its origin. We say that things are divided by a fine line. If you want to stay neutral, you must not veer from this line to one side or the other. This idea is reinforced by the image of a tightrope walker. It's certainly hard to maintain your balance on a fine wire or line.