For very little money; on a tight budget: put the party together on a shoestring
With very limited financial means, as in The newlyweds were living on a shoestring. The precise allusion in this term is unclear. One fanciful theory is that debtors in British prisons would lower a shoe by its laces from a window so as to collect funds from visitors or passers-by. A more likely theory is that it alludes to the slender shape of a shoelace, likening it to slender resources. [ Late 1800s ]
- On a tangent
On a sudden digression or change of course, as in The professor’s hard to follow; he’s always off on a tangent. This phrase often occurs in the idioms fly off or go off on a tangent, as in The witness was convincing until he went off on a tangent. This expression alludes to the geometric […]
[aw-nyah-te] /ɔˈnyɑ tɛ/ noun 1. Juan de [hwahn de] /ʰwɑn dɛ/ (Show IPA), 1550?–1624, Spanish explorer who colonized New Mexico.
/ˈɒnˌbiːt/ noun 1. (music) the first and third beats in a bar of four-four time
- On bended knee
Humbly, pleading, as in They’re desperate for funds; they’re asking for contributions on bended knee. This expression alludes to a traditional attitude of supplication. Bended, the past tense of bend, survives only in this idiom, elsewhere having been replaced by bent. [ Mid-1600s ]