1. consisting of or characterized by a small amount of money: living on a shoestring budget.

Origin of shoestring

First recorded in 1610–20; shoe + string Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shoe-string

Contemporary Examples of shoe-string

  • Neither is it some bush-league Johnny-come-lately gathering with C-list speakers and a shoe-string budget.

  • Passion, which he financed and produced, grossed $370 million worldwide on a shoe-string budget of $30 million.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mel Gibson's Downfall

    Nicole LaPorte

    July 12, 2010

Historical Examples of shoe-string

  • He heard, and, loosening his shoe-string, drew a shoe from his foot and looked at the sole.

    Eric Brighteyes

    H. Rider Haggard

  • She was speechless, because she had just crammed an entire licorice 'shoe-string' into her mouth.

  • To the length of his shoe-string and the color of his doublet.

    Sir Christopher

    Maud Wilder Goodwin

  • Clarke had saved the game for Pittsburg in the sixth inning by a shoe-string.

    Pitching in a Pinch

    Christy Mathewson

  • Say, didn't you never have to tie up your hair with a shoe-string?

    The Portion of Labor

    Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

British Dictionary definitions for shoe-string


  1. another word for shoelace
  2. informal
    1. a very small or petty amount of money (esp in the phrase on a shoestring)
    2. (as modifier)a shoestring budget
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for shoe-string

1610s, from shoe (n.) + string (n.). As figurative for "a small amount" it is recorded from 1882; as a type of necktie, from 1903; as a style of cooked potatoes from 1906.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with shoe-string


see on a shoestring.

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