On a shoestring and shoestring budget

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The idioms on a shoestring and shoestring budget were coined in America during the late 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definitions of the terms on a shoestring and shoestring budget, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

The phrase on a shoestring describes something that is attempted or accomplished with very little capital, with very little money, with extremely limited finances. The term shoestring budget describes a budget with extremely limited funding. There is much debate as to the origin of these terms. On a shoestring and shoestring budget are American terms, and most probably simply allude to the precarious nature of a thin, weak shoestring. The plural form of shoestring budget is shoestring budgets. The word shoestring is rarely used outside the idioms on a shoestring and shoestring budget, the preferred term is shoelace.


Rist was immediately sucked into Macron’s people’s movement, run on a shoestring, funded by public donations, staffed by volunteers and with little real expectation at that time of becoming more than a well-meaning lobbying group. (The Los Angeles Times)

“SMOP’s Pops,” as she called them, are Small Opera’s main enterprise, though she hopes to organize opera dinners, join next year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival, appear at private parties and events for children, and even put together whole productions, albeit on a shoestring. (The Charleston Post and Courier)

The Noah’s Ark 30-bed shelter in Wapato failed to win any funds; parent organization Generating Hope applied for $100,000 to stabilize its shoestring budget, made up mostly of community donations. (The Yakima Herald-Republic)

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