A risky job or operation, as in The university press is not allowed to either make or lose money—that's a high-wire act. This expression alludes to the aerialist performing on a tightrope stretched high above the ground. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
How to use high-wire act in a sentence
That Elgort executes the high-wire act so flawlessly is probably owed to the fact that he shares some of the same qualities.‘Fault in Our Stars’ Hunk Ansel Elgort Wants You to Cry (A Lot) | Kevin Fallon | June 6, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
All the while, FDR was performing a political high-wire act at home.
These risks and stylistic choices are no literary high-wire act.The ‘Moby-Dick’ of Memoirs: ‘River Bend Chronicle’ | Tom LeClair | June 2, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
Nevertheless, many boxers find it hard to walk away from the high wire act of high stakes professional boxing.Vitali Klitschko Contemplates Bowing Out of the Ring and Entering Ukrainian Politics | Gordon Marino | March 26, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
It was a high-wire act to be sure, but Calvin Coolidge managed to pull it off.Calvin Coolidge’s Bone-Dry Humor Is a Lesson in Laughs for Candidates | Mark Katz | February 20, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
With life a continuous high-wire act, he trained every surviving fiber to precision, dexterity, and tenacity.A Matter of Proportion | Anne Walker