nimble footwork

jolandarte

Member
italian
Hi,

I'm analysing a translation of a newspaper article, and I would like to know what do you think "nimble footwork" actually means in the following pharagraph:

"It won’t be this easy though. Italy has had many false dawns in recent years. We should remember the circumstances which brought Monti to power; a combination of nimble footwork by Giorgio Napolitano, and external pressure from European allies. The official opposition had nothing to do with Berlusconi’s resignation, and the latter does not believe he made mistakes or deserves his current plight. On the other hand Berlusconi has managed to remove himself from making unpopular decisions, while indicating he will pull the plug if Monti’s reforms do not appeal. He still retains a parliamentary majority and remains a populist threat."

In particular, I was wondering if "footwork" (also in a general context) refers more to the speed then to the strength of an action (in other words, could "footwork" be intended, still in a figurative sense, as a fast walk or as the act of stepping on something for whatever reason?)

If you're interested, in Italian the word has been translated as "l’iniziativa di Giorgio Napolitano", which is ok, but maybe quite general, so I was trying to understand what is the real meaning of the word.

Thank you for your help!
 
  • apricots

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Nimble footwork" seems to me to be a reference to the agility of a skilled boxer.
    Yes, it is a reference to boxing. It's a phrase usually used to describe someone who has maneuvered gracefully through difficult circumstances. It is not necessarily about speed but more about dexterity or quickness. You would not use nimble footwork to describe someone who has figuratively stepped on others because, going back to boxing, it refers to avoiding danger. Dancing around the ring, avoiding your opponent.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    i agree that it is originally from boxing, but nowadays basketball players are said to have nimble footwork, as a metaphor politicians too.

    I think it can be used in any context where facile and skillful maneuvering can lead to a tactical advantage.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I have no interest in boxing, so the boxing association wouldn't have occurred to me. I hear footwork used in relation to dancing though because I am involved in Scottish country dance, and I would have thought about it in terms of agility and elegance. I'm wondering whether seeing it in terms of boxing is absolutely necessary.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I have no interest in boxing, so the boxing association wouldn't have occurred to me. I hear footwork used in relation to dancing though because I am involved in Scottish country dance, and I would have thought about it in terms of agility and elegance. I'm wondering whether seeing it in terms of boxing is absolutely necessary.
    "Nimble footwork" in my opinion refers to footwork that gives a strategic advantage. It works for boxing, football (both types), basketball, and defensive work in baseball, fencing, karate, and probably many other sports. It would not work for bowling, archery, marksmanship, pool, swim competition and many other sports.

    It does not work for dancing, where nimble footwork is an advantage, but not a strategic advantage.
     
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