walk the line

Discussion in 'English Only' started by fanecca, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. fanecca New Member

    italian, Italy
    Does "walk the line" have the same meaning of "toe the line"? I found it as a warning amongst others (you'd better watch out, you'd better not cry, you'd better not pout, you'd better walk the line). Thank you!
  2. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Yes, these expressions both mean to "behave," or take care not to deviate from the "straight and narrow."

    "Toe the line" has implications of obedience, and is often more specific. "I Walk the Line" is a Johnny Cash song, of course, and in it he reassures June Carter Cash that he is not going to "stray."

    Sometimes it's difficult to "walk a fine line" when the criteria for good behavior are ambiguous. At times your choices even conflict, especially where pleasing two different people is the goal-- you may have to "walk a tightrope," a difficult feat of balance.

    And when you drive, of course you have to keep it between the ditch and the barrow pit, or the ditch and the berm. I understand those new-fangled divided highways have lanes marked off with painted lines-- lines, lines, everywhere a line. Blockin out the scenery, breaking my mind..." (to paraphrase those notable one-hit wonders, the Five Man Electric Band).

    Do this, don't do that-- can't you see the line?
  3. James Stephens Senior Member

    Oklahoma, USA
    English, USA
    I most often hear "walk the line" and "toe the mark", both meaning follow the rules without deviation.
  4. I.C. Senior Member

    There at least used to be a practice of letting people suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol walk on a line to determine their fitness, I think.

    Wondering whether „walking the line“, not straying from the path, could possibly be a reference to a line on the floor a prisoner may be expected to follow while being walked from one place to another.
  5. nycphotography

    nycphotography Senior Member

    I do be learnin stuff
    John-Paul Miller, NYC
    Toeing the line may have an implication of complying barely, and only undercoercion, ie, the one toeing the line may be testing its limits and contemplating stepping over the line.

    Walking the line (when appearing in the same context) implies full cooperation (and indoctrination) with the party line in question.
  6. fanecca New Member

    italian, Italy
    Thanks everybody!!! Ciao
  7. fredda074 New Member

    Johnny Cash wrote that song for his first wife, not June Carter.

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