step on one toe

Discussion in 'English Only' started by az09, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. az09 Senior Member

    Could you please clarify for me the meanings of phrase "step on one toe with the other" in following sentence from Lolita:

    Presently, she would hand the rope back to her little Spanish friend, and watch in her turn the repeated lesson, and brush away the hair from her brow, and fold her arms, and step on one toe with the other, or drop her hands loosely upon her still unflared hips, and I would satisfy myself that the damned staff had at last finished cleaning up our cottage; whereupon, flashing a smile to the shy, dark-haired page girl of my princess and thrusting my fatherly fingers deep into Lo’s hair from behind, and then gently but firmly clasping them around the nape of her neck, I would lead my reluctant pet to our small home for a quick connection before dinner.

    Thank you so much.
  2. sparklark

    sparklark Member

    I think her feet are meeting at the top, with one big toe on the other. Maybe some yoga or suchlike move? Which page, chapter and edition is the paragraph? I can look it up when I get home.
  3. az09 Senior Member

    This sentence in the end of chapter 2, part II, please check it for me. Thank you so much.
  4. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    I think it's an awkward childish movement, of balancing on one leg and stepping with the other foot on top of the toes of the stable foot.
  5. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)

    Here, toe means the toe of the shoe. It would have been too clumsy for Nabokov to write step on one set of five toes with the other set, and besides, her actual toes aren't visible.
  6. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    Good thinking Keith. I'd imagined her wearing sandals (don't ask me why) so I thought it a little strange to say singular "toe". Of course it's the toe of the shoe.:)
  7. az09 Senior Member

    So this phrase said that: she step on one toe of shoe on top of other shoe? Why Nabokov wrote that "with other"? Please help me understand.

    Thank you so much!
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  8. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    When you position your feet like that, your legs turn and your genital area is covered and compressed. This might be a strategy to delay the need to urinate, but in this case, given the source, it functions as a denial of sexual access.
  9. az09 Senior Member


    Thank you. So the position looked like this picture?

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