Pick one's way (figurative)

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Hi, I've been reading these forums for a few years and now and they have been of great help. This is mi very first post. Here goes my question:

Can the phrase "pick one's way", as in when you're walking carefully on a dangerous ground, be used metaphorically like this: "I think you should be cautious and pick your way with her", for instance, if one is talking about a relationship?

Thanks in advance.
  • Hm. That sounds strange to me. On the other hand I have never heard the phrase "pick one's way" used in any context in American English. But yes that idea can definitely be used metaphorically.

    I would say "tread lightly" or "tread cautiously" or even "watch your step" although that last one could seem a bit like a threat in some contexts.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    Just on its own it doesn't work well as it is too imprecise. There have to be obstacles (even if only implicitly) so you can pick your way round them.

    "She has many serious hangups (complejos) and you have to pick your way carefully round them" (but even here "you have to tread carefully with her" would be better).

    Thank you. UMchicamericana said that, in American English "pick your way" is not used in any context. I was wondering if it is used in British English at all, SydLexia ?


    Senior Member
    It could indeed be heard in AmerEnglish, but SydLexia is right; there needs to be something around which one picks one's way. In you example, I like tread lightly. Menos formal, perhaps: "take it slow"
    Actually, mine is an example as to how any given phrase can be used metaphorically. There's no source text, it is just an example I made up as what I was trying to figure out is how different languages use metaphores in a given way, a way which is fairly intuitive.
    As a matter of fact, I was interested in the possible use of the phrase in English, not in coming up with a hypotheis. Just the amusement of playing with language.

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    << Moderator's note: Thread moved to English Only forum, as poster prefers. :) >>
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    Senior Member
    I would have a hard time understanding "pick your way with her". It would be much easier to understand a phrase such as Justham's "take it slow", "proceed cautiously", "be careful", or "take your time".
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