[tuhch-uh n-goh]


risky; precarious: a touch-and-go descent down the mountain.
hasty, sketchy, or desultory.

Origin of touch-and-go

First recorded in 1805–15

touch and go


a precarious or delicate state of affairs: It was touch and go there for a while during the operation.
quick action or movement: the touch and go of city traffic.

Origin of touch and go

First recorded in 1645–55 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for touch-and-go

Contemporary Examples of touch-and-go

  • START ratification is touch-and-go, too, since, being a treaty, it requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The GOP Is Eating Obama's Lunch

    Eric Alterman

    December 17, 2010

Historical Examples of touch-and-go

  • I have here a passage from the diary, where it seems to have been touch-and-go.

    Records of a Family of Engineers

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • "It's been touch-and-go as it is," he murmured, pressing his hand against his side.

  • He managed to elude his fellow-countrymen as it happened, but it was "touch-and-go" with him.

  • Facts showed that our belief was right, though it was a touch-and-go chance.

    People of Destiny

    Philip Gibbs

  • It is a touch-and-go affair; the stimulus presses the button and then subsides, while the neural organization does the rest.

    Creative Intelligence

    John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen

British Dictionary definitions for touch-and-go

touch and go


(touch-and-go when prenominal) risky or criticala touch-and-go situation
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

touch-and-go in Culture

touch and go

Uncertain or precarious: “The doctors told the patient that, even though her disease was in remission, from now on it was touch and go.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with touch-and-go

touch and go

Extremely uncertain or risky, as in It was touch and go after the surgery; we were not sure he'd survive it, or It was touch and go but they finally gave me a seat on the plane. This idiom implies that a mere touch may cause a calamity. [Early 1800s]

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