On the right tack

Also, on the right track. Proceeding satisfactorily; also, following the correct line of reasoning. For example, He thinks the housing market is improving, and he’s on the right tack there, or That’s not exactly so, but you’re on the right track. The first term alludes to the direction of a sailboat, the second to the direction of a path. The same is true of the antonyms, on the wrong tack and on the wrong track, indicating an erroneous assumption or course of action. For example, He’s on the wrong tack for finding a solution, or The researchers were on the wrong track altogether when they assumed the virus was transmitted by mosquitoes. The expressions using tack date from about 1900; those using track date from about 1880.


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