a rope or wire cable, stretched tight, on which acrobats perform feats of balancing.

verb (used without object), tight·roped, tight·rop·ing.

to walk, move, or proceed on or as on a tightrope: He tightroped through enemy territory.

verb (used with object), tight·roped, tight·rop·ing.

to make (one's way, course, etc.) on or as on a tightrope.

Origin of tightrope

First recorded in 1795–1805; tight + rope
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tightrope

Contemporary Examples of tightrope

Historical Examples of tightrope

  • Bein' married that a-way, I takes it, is somethin' like walkin' a tightrope.

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • When a performer falls from the tightrope, who remembers all the times he has not failed?

    Jacqueline, Complete

    (Mme. Blanc) Th. Bentzon

  • Should you like to be a juggler, a tightrope walker, or a clown?

  • Father Bright felt as though he had been walking a tightrope for hours.

    The Eyes Have It

    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • There were washed out trails where the ride would be in the nature of tightrope walking.

    The Code of the Mountains

    Charles Neville Buck

British Dictionary definitions for tightrope



a rope or cable stretched taut above the ground on which acrobats walk or perform balancing feats
to be in a difficult situation that demands careful and considered behaviour
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 tightrope

1801, from tight (adj.) + rope (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tightrope


see walk a tightrope.

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