Holding on by a thread

Posted by David FG on September 05, 2005

In Reply to: Holding on by a thread posted by Alain Houé on September 03, 2005

: Hello! New Orleans Mayor said "The people of our city are holding on by a thread". I have never come across this expression. Does it mean the people are in a very difficult situation?

'Hanging on by a thread' would, I think, be more common this (the Eastern) side of the Atlantic. I have always assumed the allusion is to a rope which has frayed until there is only a single thread still intact. A perilous situation.