Definition of knife-edge in English:



  • 1The edge of a knife.

    thrilling, exhilarating, stirring, rousing, stimulating, intoxicating, electrifying, invigorating, moving, inspiring
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    1. 1.1as modifier (of creases or pleats in a garment) very narrow or sharp.
      • ‘Gypsy dirndls, knife-edge pleats and rich colour mixes don't often work for me, but in his hands the results were masterly, with the Romany effect tempered by stringently tailored ruffled jackets.’
  • 2in singular A very tense or dangerous situation.

    ‘worried investors could be living on a knife-edge for the next twelve months’
    • ‘Continued price wars between supermarkets could place the fragile recovery of British agriculture on a knife-edge again.’
    • ‘The court was told that, amid a falling property market and rising construction costs, the whole development was on a knife-edge.’
    • ‘‘The timing could not be more critical, the trade talks are on a knife-edge and we need to see leadership from the EU,’ she added.’
    • ‘During the winter of 1831-32, the nation stood on a knife-edge.’
    • ‘The economy is still on a knife-edge and there is growing popular discontent with falling living standards and the lack of basic democratic rights.’
    • ‘After a year of falling markets, the US economy is now on a knife-edge.’
    • ‘Services in many rural areas are now on a knife-edge.’
    • ‘House prices look to be on a knife-edge but, whatever happens to the property market, they look set to remain the nation's favourite topic of discussion for a while longer.’
    • ‘Gas supplies, however, are on a knife-edge and any problem, including minor equipment breakdowns or higher summer temperatures, will produce immediate cuts.’
    • ‘This week's interest-rate decision by the Bank of England's monetary policy committee is on a knife-edge, amid further evidence that the economy is weakening.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, flood-threatened parts of North Yorkshire remained on a knife-edge today, waiting for river levels to reach their peaks following record rainfalls.’
    • ‘Hopes of settling the bitter firefighters' dispute were on a knife-edge last night after union leaders issued a new deadline for reaching a deal.’
    • ‘In what was described as a knife-edge decision, the members of the board voted by four votes to two in favour of the transfer.’
    • ‘York was on a knife-edge tonight as the city's flood defences faced their toughest test following the continuing deluge.’
    • ‘Median incomes may be higher than the national average but many of the young families in these areas are on a financial knife-edge as a result of huge mortgages.’
    • ‘The livelihoods of 6,000 people are on a knife-edge, as they wait to be told if Rover can continue as a going concern.’
    • ‘If you don't back your files up, especially if you're a very small business, you're living on a knife-edge.’
    • ‘This is going to be the most knife-edge election for a long, long time.’
    • ‘With the presidential election poised on a knife-edge, both camps have turned their attention not only to the key mid-western battlegrounds but also to the south-western states of the US.’
    • ‘O'Neill converted to give the Vikings a 14-10 lead before Cooke added a penalty to put the game on a knife-edge at half-time.’
    tense, charged, highly charged, overwrought
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  • 3A sharp mountain ridge; an arête.

    • ‘Aeons ago, rivers of ice carved out the unforgettable landforms - knife-edge ridges, hanging valley, and towering peaks, every view a visual aria.’
    • ‘After another couple of hours, we made our way gradually along a knife-edge ridge, careful to stay off the cornice which hung over a spectacular 1,000 metre drop to our right.’
    • ‘When I caught up with Bryan, he was gingerly backstepping along a knife-edge arête.’
    • ‘We dropped our packs and did a fast recon up to the base of Koh-i-Bardar to find our line: a steep couloir to a knife-edge ridge to the summit.’
  • 4A steel wedge on which a pendulum or other device oscillates or is balanced.