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Skating on thin ice and on thin ice

  • Skating on thin ice and the abbreviated form, on thin ice, are idioms. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idioms skating on thin ice and on thin ice, where they came from, and some examples of their idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    Skating on thin ice is an idiom used to describe when someone is doing something risky or dangerous. Skating on thin ice may also be used to mean that someone is engaging in behavior that will cause him trouble. The idiom on thin ice is an abbreviation of the phrase; it is the most commonly used phrase of the two. The phrases skating on thin and on thin ice came into use in the 1800s and allude to the fact that ice that is too thin to support someone’s weight will break and cause the skater to fall into the water. Hypothermia can set in quickly if one is submerged in cold water, so skating on thin ice involves taking a dangerous risk. Ice skating was invented in Scandavia 5,000 years ago.

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    Examples

    After already warning the man that he was skating on thin ice, officers arrested him this week and charged him with “incitement against the government vaccination order,” according to a statement by the Samoan government. (The New York Post)

    He said as a sociology major in the 1970s at Yale College, he was “skating on thin ice” in grasping quantum computing principles, but he supports the Yale model in which research is turned into companies that create jobs. (The New Haven Register)

    You only get so many chances in this league, and I felt like I was on thin ice. (Sports Illustrated)

    “It was very quid pro quo and punitive, and I always felt like I was on thin ice, and he could be truly horrible and mean and then be incredibly generous,” she said. (The Independent)


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