fine line

[ fahyn lahyn ]


  1. a small, barely perceptible difference:

    There's often a fine line between helping and interfering.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of fine line1

First recorded in 1845–50

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. walk a fine line,
    1. to act carefully in order to avoid the wrong outcome or maintain a delicate balance:

      Moderators walk a fine line between censorship and protecting their site's users.

      I had to walk a fine line between maintaining the peace and doing my job.

    2. to act in a way that risks a disastrous outcome:

      You’re walking a fine line, buddy—if you don’t start watching your mouth, you’ll lose the respect of your kids.

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Example Sentences

The Obama administration has to walk a fine line in the weeks to come, Lindsay added.

Christie has walked a fine line on the issue of same-sex marriage.

“There is a fine line that the organisers should be wary of crossing,” said one Labour MP.

Staying safe and keeping a healthy sense of adventure can be a fine line, especially when your job is to find an original story.

The difference between wanting more and getting bored is a fine line.

If a drawing instrument will draw a fine line correctly, it will be found to answer for thick lines which are more easily made.

Frame of a very heavy outside line with an interior fine line.

The upper right triangle has the extra vertical line, and the fine line to upper block, n2 U2 S2.

In one, the outer fine line is removed above the top label, while that under the bottom is left intact.

A fine line made with a medium pencil will answer the same purpose and will not materially disfigure the box.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




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