View synonyms for touch and go

touch and go



  1. a precarious or delicate state of affairs:

    It was touch and go there for a while during the operation.

  2. quick action or movement:

    the touch and go of city traffic.



[ tuhch-uhn-goh ]


  1. risky; precarious:

    a touch-and-go descent down the mountain.

  2. hasty, sketchy, or desultory.

touch and go


  1. touch-and-go when prenominal risky or critical

    a 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

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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of touch and go1

First recorded in 1645–55

Origin of touch and go2

First recorded in 1805–15
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Idioms and Phrases

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]
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Example Sentences

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

And still the grizzled old skipper would go on, though it was touch-and-go every time a sequence of strong seas came howling down.

Saved me a bothering touch-and-go play to get you out here and seem innocent.

“Ay, if we are once free,” muttered the master, who was not at all of the touch-and-go school.

I was glad that when riding this road in the dark I had not realised it was in quite such a touch-and-go condition.

Watching our chances, the rest of us swarmed up between swells, but it was touch-and-go all the time and took a long while.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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