heel to toe

Sirius77

Senior Member
Turkish
Hi,

Does "heel to toe" got an idiomatic meaning?

For example when climbing a ladder someone says "we climbed heel to toe".

If you need the rest:
"We climbed heel to toe, the armchair between us, to the last rung, next to the opening." (R. Matalon, The Sound of Our Steps).
 
  • nikette

    New Member
    English - Canada
    hey, if it does i think it would suggest something logically done from start to finish
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I gather that two people are climbing a ladder while carrying the armchair. The idea may be that one person's toe is placed right below the heel of the person who is climbing first, but it's a little hard to picture. In any case, I think it's meant literally.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It doesn't sound like a very good use of "heel to toe" to me. I see it's a book by an Israeli author translated into English by another Israeli.
     

    Sirius77

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    You are right Myridon, it's a translation of an Israeli author by an Israeli translator.

    Hermione I gave you context. Armchair really does not contribute to the meaning of heel to toe.

    Newt, in this case it may mean "we climbed very close". That is possible. Thank you.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Armchair really does not contribute to the meaning of heel to toe.
    Two people climbing a ladder very close together would have one person's head near the other person's feet. Their feet would be a body length apart, not literally heel to toe - their feet close to each other.
    Adding in this mysterious floating? ladder-climbing? armchair and the scene becomes somewhat unbelievable.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It all seems pretty unlikely to me too:( - I can't picture any way that two people could climb a ladder 'heel to toe'.

    I couldn't find the quoted sentence in the Google Books copy of the novel. Could you tell us some more about the situation, Sirius, and give us the two sentences that immediately precede this one and the sentence that follows?
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Well, all I can picture is the two persons trying to stand on the same step at the same time, one almost carrying the other on his back. That seems laborious and risky, especially with a whole armchair between them :D It is a good suicide recipe...
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I'm guessing the writer meant "head to toe", as in close together (the lower person's head being close to the higher person's toes/feet) and ended up writing "heel" instead.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    And Welcome, nikette!

    Maybe they were cimbing side-by-side with the armchair between them so that the heels of one person were on the same rung as the toes of the other. It does sound awkward and risky, though.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The sentence does provide context (surrounding text) for the phrase, but context (surrounding text) for the sentence would also help. Some explanation of the situation would also be good.
     

    Sirius77

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I am noting this "heel to toe" among the ones I'll check with the Hebrew. Thanks a lot for your help.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, I see that in another of your threads on this book (hair would grow on the palms of my hands), the source of an unusual turn of phrase in English was in fact a Hebrew idiom. It may well be that something similar is going on here.

    Google throws up the following possibly-relevant snippets:
    Let us know what you find out in your researches!
     

    Sirius77

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Hi Loob,
    That's why I asked it in the Hebrew forum and found the answer there. Maybe I should have asked "heel to toe" there as well. I could get an answer before Cagey moves it:(

    Your "heel to toe" sources are incredible, how couldn't I find it. So it means slowly. Many many thanks. :):):):tick:
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    So it means slowly.
    No, it doesn't. It may mean that in Hebrew, but it is not an English idiom and the phrase "heel to toe" has only a literal meaning to English speakers. That makes "we climbed the ladder heel to toe" impossible.
     

    Sirius77

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    No, it doesn't. It may mean that in Hebrew, but it is not an English idiom and the phrase "heel to toe" has only a literal meaning to English speakers. That makes "we climbed the ladder heel to toe" impossible.
    yes it does Andygc, because there are other Hebrew idioms in the text which the translator didn't bother to adopt to the English speakers culture. Thanks all and mostly to Loob.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, it doesn't. It is meaningless to an English speaker. A translation that retains literal translations of foreign idioms is an inadequate translation because it does not provide the reader with the intended meaning. In English "heel to toe" and "heel by toe" do not mean "slowly" or "slowly and carefully".
     
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