touch and go


uncertain, risky

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“TOUCH AND GO for the Japanese Economy”

Investors Chronicle Headline

Did you
know?

touch and go
idiom

- describes an uncertain, or risky situation

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


ORIGIN

In aviation, touch and go is when an airplane approaches the runway to land, touches it at the last second and then ascends again. This procedure is practised often, particularly on naval aircraft carriers because of the risk that a jet will not catch the hook on the deck of the ship in order to land. When that happens, the pilot touches the deck with the jet and takes off again.

This risky and uncertain procedure would be an obvious candidate for the origin of the expression “touch and go” were it not for the fact that it was used in the middle of the 16th century in the literal sense of “to briefly touch and then move on”.

The expression evolved over the centuries, taking on various meanings such as an impatient person or carelessness. By the early 19th century “touch and go” was being used in the sense of “dangerous, risky”.

Today, the expression is often used to describe uncertainty, such as a situation that can go either way.


TOUCHY IDIOMS

- a soft touch = an easily persuadable person (He's a soft touch. They always persuade him to work overtime.)

- touch base = to talk to or connect with someone after a while (While we were in Italy, we touched base with some old friends.)

- the final touch = the final details that complete or finish a job (I just need to add final touches to my painting.)

- to touch a nerve with someone = make someone upset (The prospect of cutting jobs always touches a nerve with unions.)

- magic touch = the ability to do something excellently (She has a magic touch when it comes to cooking pasta.)


SYNONYMS

chancy, iffy, hanging by a thread, on thin ice, precarious, questionable, risky, TOUCH AND GO, uncertain, unknown, unsure, up for grabs


SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“It was TOUCH AND GO as to whether we’d get to the airport in time to catch our flight.”


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Paul Smith

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