Step on someone’s toes

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Step on someone’s toes is an idiom with an uncertain origin. We will examine the meaning of the idiom step on someone’s toes, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To step on someone’s toes means to offend them, especially offending them by encroaching on their sphere of influence. To step on someone’s toes means to do something that is their responsibility, to seize their power or authority. The idiom step on someone’s toes has been in use since at least the mid-1800s, and is found in Anthony Trollope’s novel The Belton Estate, published in 1866: “‘But you mustn’t offend my father.’—‘I won’t tread on his toes.’” Related phrase are steps on someone’s toes, stepped on someone’s toes, stepping on someone’s toes.


Nelson said the legislature needs to “understand (the) avenue of approach that he’s taking and ensure that we are working cohesively together so that we don’t step on his toes, and he doesn’t step on our toes, either.” (The Guam Daily Post)

I liked him and respected him and I did not want to step on his toes. (South Coast Today)

If I can get an opportunity where no one will interfere and keep stepping on my toes, it’s just a matter of time. (Newsweek)

“Forgive me if I have stepped on your toes and I have forgiven everyone who stepped on my toes.” (The Daily Post Nigeria)