KudoZ home » English » Art/Literary

toe the line

English translation: to obey the rules down to the last letter

Advertisement

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:toe the line
English translation:to obey the rules down to the last letter
Entered by: Arthur Borges
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

23:02 Jan 13, 2003
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
English term or phrase: toe the line
what exactly does this mean?
zebung
Local time: 22:20
to obey the rules completely.
Explanation:
to fully comply with all orders

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:10:15 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

e.g. \"Tom had great ideas but sometimes he went too far, when management tried to make him toe the line, he quit before they fired him.\"

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:12:35 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

An alternate idiom is \"to walk the straight \'n\' narrow (path)\".
Selected response from:

Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 04:20
Grading comment
först till kvarnen, men tack till Kim också - jätte bra förklaring.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

Advertisement


Summary of answers provided
5do what you are told to do, follow the rulesxxxOso
4 +1to do what one is expected to do
Kim Metzger
5to adhere to the opinions / leadership of others
Hermann
4to not deviate from the rules one iotaSherman Rosen
4to obey the rules completely.
Arthur Borges


  

Answers


1 min   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
to obey the rules completely.


Explanation:
to fully comply with all orders

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:10:15 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

e.g. \"Tom had great ideas but sometimes he went too far, when management tried to make him toe the line, he quit before they fired him.\"

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:12:35 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

An alternate idiom is \"to walk the straight \'n\' narrow (path)\".

Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 04:20
PRO pts in pair: 23
Grading comment
först till kvarnen, men tack till Kim också - jätte bra förklaring.
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 min   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
to adhere to the opinions / leadership of others


Explanation:
to stick with the team

team spirit

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:05:11 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

not to get out of line;

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:14:11 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

picture:

like a dog on a lead following his owner on the line

:-))

Hermann
Local time: 21:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 61
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
to do what one is expected to do


Explanation:
Or follow the rules

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-01-13 23:10:33 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

If you are asked toe the line the you are expected to conform to the rules of the situation. In one suggested origin the Line actually exists and is found in the House of Commons. It was put there to mark the sword distance between Government and Opposition front benches. Members were told to toe the line if, in the eyes of the Speaker, they became too excited.
A less romantic possible basis is found in athletics where the runners in a race line up with their toes on the line.
The US navy has a completely different origin. From their web site comes:
The space between each pair of deck planks in a wooden ship was filled with a packing material called \"oakum\" and then sealed with a mixture of pitch and tar. The result, from afar, was a series of parallel lines a half-foot or so apart, running the length of the deck.
Once a week, as a rule, usually on Sunday, a warship\'s crew was ordered to fall in at quarters -- that is, each group of men into which the crew was divided would line up in formation in a given area of the deck. To insure a neat alignment of each row, the Sailors were directed to stand with their toes just touching a particular seam.
Another use for these seams was punitive. The youngsters in a ship, be they ship\'s boys or student officers, might be required to stand with their toes just touching a designated seam for a length of time as punishment for some minor infraction of discipline, such as talking or fidgeting at the wrong time. A tough captain might require the miscreant to stand there, not talking to anyone, in fair weather or foul, for hours at a time. Hopefully, he would learn it was easier and more pleasant to conduct himself in the required manner rather than suffer the punishment.
From these two uses of deck seams comes our cautionary word to obstreperous youngsters to \"toe the line.\"

http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board/12/messages/697.html



    American Idioms
Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 15:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2249

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Refugio: Very nice
5 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
do what you are told to do, follow the rules


Explanation:
Hello zebung,
Good luck and greetings from Oso ¶:^)


    Reference: http://home.t-online.de/home/toni.goeller/idiom_wm/idioms639...
xxxOso
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in pair: 138
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

10 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
to not deviate from the rules one iota


Explanation:
The expression has to do with the beginning of a race, where the runner is to place his/her toes exactly asgainst the line.

Sherman Rosen
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also:



Term search
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search