Definition of shoestring in English:



  • 1informal A small or inadequate budget.

    ‘many early studies were done on a shoestring’
    before noun [as modifier] ‘a shoestring budget’
    • ‘Her organisation, already operating on a shoestring, is likely to close, after nearly six years of campaigning.’
    • ‘It was comparatively cheap to other courses but was always run on a shoestring.’
    • ‘A documentary on the subject, made on a shoestring, has proved a surprise hit and reaped a small fortune.’
    • ‘With only $24 million at her disposal, less than 2% of the UN's budget, she is operating on a shoestring and facing problems that would have daunted Sisyphus.’
    • ‘Most B&B owners aren't millionaires, we run our budget on a shoestring so this is desperate for us.’
    • ‘The consensus of everyone is that it will be painful, but you cannot run a council as large as ours on a shoestring.’
    • ‘It brings prestige to Scotland on a shoestring, and a great deal is done by people for whom it's a crusade, not a job.’
    • ‘I don't want them living on a shoestring unless they absolutely have to.’
    • ‘Many of the small neighborhood stores and restaurants, particularly those in poor areas, were already operating on a shoestring.’
    • ‘A real Scottish success story, this not-for-profit business was launched on a shoestring in 1999, and now reaches out to 500 social entrepreneurs.’
    • ‘It was such a rags to riches story which the brothers did on a shoestring.’
    • ‘However, despite throwing a walloping £19 million at a system that worked very well thank you on a shoestring, the corps has not been an unqualified success.’
    • ‘He said the eclectic team included ‘students, young graduates, bank managers and housewives’, all operating on a shoestring.’
    • ‘Readers might well ask how on earth it can be that a website operating on a shoestring is left to provide such a vital and basic service to the public.’
    • ‘Even that sort of budget, says Blair, means ‘you run on a shoestring: you spend no money on a motor-home and stay in cheap hotels.’’
    • ‘Having proven his ability to operate successfully on a shoestring budget he is regarded as a prime candidate to return to the cash-strapped club he served for many years.’
    • ‘All its success is built on a shoestring, and now it must make more cuts.’
    • ‘The shop has helped me to get married on a shoestring, and yet still be able to wear a stunning dress for the occasion.’
    • ‘It operates on a shoestring so it may be unkind to point to the very poor production values, but it and others have solved problems more creatively than is the case here.’
    • ‘Working on a shoestring - ‘I had some wheeling and dealing to do because we didn't have a penny in the piggy bank.’’
    very small sum, pittance, trifle, trifling sum, drop in the ocean, insignificant sum, derisory sum, paltry sum
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  • 2North American A shoelace.

    • ‘As we were taking the field, in front of a crowd between 30,000 and 40,000, I tripped on my shoestring and fell flat on my face.’
    • ‘Several of the drawings were laced together with shoestrings in primitive book form.’
    • ‘We need to replace his button shirts with the pullover kind; pants should have elastic waists, and not belts; shoes should have Velcro, instead of shoestrings.’
    • ‘Glen plopped down beside us, and idly played with one of my shoestrings as he read through it.’
    • ‘He was wearing calf-high black boots with gray shoestrings.’
    • ‘The shoelace-and-one-Velcro-strap closure gives easy access and a secure, adjustable fit with minimal shoestring / Velcro entanglement.’
    • ‘My fingers stumble a little as I knot the shoestring into a bow, like dancers in an unfamiliar routine.’
    • ‘Instead, I went out and bought me some new shoestrings.’
    • ‘Do you like to be followed around by a horde of first-graders who need to be shown how to tie their shoestrings each time the shoes need to be tied?’
    • ‘He ties rope, old shoestring, clothes hangers around his waist to keep his pants up.’
    shoelace, bootlace, shoestring, lacing, string, cord, thong, twine, tie
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North American
  • (of a save or tackle in sport) near or around the ankles or feet, or just above the ground.

    ‘the Mets center fielder made a shoestring catch’
    ‘a shoestring tackle’
    • ‘Not a shoestring tackle - I'm talking pads on pads.’
    • ‘But Hansen got back onto his feet in the blink of an eye, somehow got downfield, and dove to make a game-saving, shoestring tackle at the seven-yard line.’
    • ‘Over 600 individual animations are in the game, allowing everything from shoestring catches to wrap tackles.’
    • ‘This drill teaches players to put their hand down when someone like tries to shoestring tackle them and fight for extra yards.’
    • ‘Though if I use a stiff arm they'll fall down and shoestring tackle me.’