on the line

on the line


  • to be at serious risk.
  • denoting the fact that something is being risked.
  • line up in formation (military, sports, etc.).
  • a gambling term that can be applied to a variety of games of chance.

Examples in Sentences

  1. Put your toes on the line and form up!
  2. I’m going to risk it and put it all on the line.
  3. By making this investment, he’s putting everything on the line.
  4. Open-pen fish farms are on the line along the west coasts of both Canada and the United States.
  5. Michigan’s future is on the line as a result of the rising violence.


The etymology of “on the line” is a bit confusing since it is said to have originated as early as the end of the 17th century and as late as the 1940s. As it can be seen with many confusing proverbs, this stands out as one of the many that can have multiple meanings that are not related. Such vague phrases manage to confuse a lot of people since they require a greater explanation so that those listening or reading can understand. The birthplace of this idiom is said to have started anywhere from aboard British naval vessels to gambling dens. It can literally mean to stand ‘on the line’ in formation, or it can be used as a betting term. It can even be used to describe urgency in a given situation.


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The Idioms Dictionary explains common English idioms that are popular worldwide, especially in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand.

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