on tiptoe,
    1. on the tips of one's toes.
    2. expectant; eager: With Christmas coming, the children were on tiptoe.
    3. stealthily; cautiously: The concert had already begun, so he entered the back of the hall on tiptoe.

Origin of tiptoe

1350–1400; Middle English tiptoon (plural noun). See tip1, toe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tiptoe

Contemporary Examples of tiptoe

Historical Examples of tiptoe

  • She had to go on tiptoe through the shrubbery and out through the church yard.

  • The responsible man, with a start, obeyed, and went out on tiptoe.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • I forgot all my tatters and stood on tiptoe in the stirrups to overpeer the fence-row.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • There was somebody approaching her room—evidently on tiptoe.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • At last the mother took up the lamp and they went off, one after the other, on tiptoe.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for tiptoe


verb -toes, -toeing or -toed (intr)

to walk with the heels off the ground and the weight supported by the ball of the foot and the toes
to walk silently or stealthily


on tiptoe
  1. on the tips of the toes or on the ball of the foot and the toes
  2. eagerly anticipating something
  3. stealthily or silently


on tiptoe


walking or standing on tiptoe
stealthy or silent
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 tiptoe

mid-15c., from tip (n.) + toe. As a verb from 1630s. Related: Tiptoes (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tiptoe


see on tiptoe.

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