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Keep me on my toes

Posted by Bruce Kahl on November 10, 2005

In Reply to: Keep me on my toes posted by Marc on November 09, 2005

: The phrase "they keep me on my toes" was used by a co-worker referring to her two sons. I love knowing the origin of such phrases and thought I'd do some research about where this phrase "keeping ones on ones toes" came from. My guess would be boxing or perhaps from times when torture would be utilized (a sword beneath the chin) to keep one sharp, aware and honest. Alas, I didn't find anything. Can you help?

I always thought it was from the beginning of a foot race when you put your feet on the starting line and you are very alert and eager to go.

Some (Word Detective and World Wide Words) think it is nautical, as a reference to a line drawn on a ship's deck or a parade ground which new recruits must "toe" as they assemble in eager formation and anticipation.