Living on the edge

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 14, 2007

In Reply to: Living on the edge posted by Surinder Longia on May 14, 2007

: What is the meaning of "Living on the edge" and where one should use it?

There are discussions of this phrase in the archive (Search Box, top of previous page, type in the phrase), but you may remain confused. In reading or hearing this phrase, we are somewhat at the mercy of the speaker or writer, as this phrase has no single, universal meaning. However, think of someone living a life, voluntarily or not, in which a small change in our behavior or our fotunes will put him over the edge where he didn't want to go. Their life puts them at risk of falling off some edge, much like falling off a cliff. A dare-devil or chronic risk-taker is in danger of falling off the edge into death, injury or failure, while a homeless person is involuntarily living on the edge of starvation. I would suppose that some people under chronic stress, or with emotional problems, are living on the edge of mental breakdown or insanity.

When you hear the phrase, look for context and clues as to what is meant. And avoid using the expression yourself unless you don't mind living on the edge.