toe the line

Explanation: What is an idiom?

behave and follow orders.


"Hey George, what's this I hear about your Sharon?"


"Well, Maureen was talking to Beryl"

"Well that's a bad start."

"Yeah, and she said that your Sharon's left home."

"Oh, it's just kids talk. She's only fifteen. She's got some mates who take drugs, go out drinking and all that. We said she had to stop seeing them, so of course that's like a green light to keep seeing them. Anyway, she came in drunk one night at about three o'clock and missed school the next day. We told her that was it. No more late nights and parties. She said we couldn't do that to her, and I told her that as long as she lived in my house, she followed my rules. If she didn't toe the line, she wouldn't be able to go on her school trip."

"The one to the USA"


"Ooh, you're so hard!"

"Yeah, well, she stormed up to her room and said she was leaving home and didn't want to go on her school trip anyway. She's at her aunt Doris'."

"Mind you, you're a fine one to talk."

"What do you mean."

"Well, you were a drug dealer at her age."

"Yeah, well we don't talk about that. Let me get you another drink to shut you up..."


This idiom was originally a navy term. The deck of ships was made up of lengths of wood (called planks) separated by black lines. When the people on a ship were ordered to stand in formation, they had to stand with their toes just touching the black line between the planks. This helped make sure they were in a straight line. If they didn't toe the line, they would be punished.

Category: t,body

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