Definition of toe in English:


nounPlural toes

  • 1Any of the five digits at the end of the human foot.

    ‘he cut his big toe on a sharp stone’
    • ‘I had a jagged edge on the toenail on my big toe and it got caught in the heavy comforter on the bed while I was asleep and pulled half of my toenail off.’
    • ‘He had distinctive brown eyebrows, wore dentures and was missing the big toe on his right foot.’
    • ‘To do toe taps, all the toes are lifted off the floor and, keeping the heel on the floor and the outside four toes in the air, the big toe is tapped to the floor repetitively.’
    • ‘You may develop ulcerations on your lower legs, ankles, feet or toes.’
    • ‘I have a giant blister on the bottom of my big toe and my feet still hurt.’
    • ‘A corn usually occurs on the tops of toes, especially the little toe, while a callus is found on the bottom of the foot.’
    • ‘I type this having regained the feeling in my fingers, toes, trapezius, gluteus maximus and cerebral cortex.’
    • ‘If you put your index finger between your big toe and your second toe and then slide it up an inch toward your ankle, you can feel a pulse.’
    • ‘The pressure from the big toe pushing inwards affects the other toes.’
    • ‘Seven months ago, Joe awoke from a sound sleep with an awful pain in his big toe.’
    • ‘It can affect anywhere but usually attacks the big toes or feet and ankles.’
    • ‘Paul described how surgeons formed a new thumb on his right hand from the big toe on the foot that they had amputated hours earlier.’
    • ‘Though the toes of the human foot are generally not capable of independent or precise movement, the flexor muscles of the big toe are vital to our gait.’
    • ‘But you can also have bursitis by your knee, heel and even in the base of your big toe.’
    • ‘A bunion occurs as a result of a deformity in the big toe known as hallux valgus, where hallux means the big toe and valgus means abnormal bending towards the other toes.’
    • ‘The foot is normally structured so that the big toe is naturally in line with the long bone leading up to it (the first metatarsal) and all the toes spread outwards from this.’
    • ‘The surgery repaired a torn tendon that attached his big toe to his right foot.’
    • ‘The videos show the fetus's fingers and toes, hair, muscles, facial features, and genitals and show it sucking a thumb or moving about.’
    • ‘He has broken the metatarsal bone alongside big toe, one of five such bones in each foot.’
    • ‘Up until now a lot of attention has been paid to the effect of these shoes on the formation of bunions and on problems of the middle foot and big toe.’
    bottom, base, edge, end, lowest part, lowest point, lower limits
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Any of the digits of the foot of a quadruped or bird.
      • ‘These animals had two functional toes on their forefeet and one on their hindfeet, each with hoof-like claws.’
      • ‘Legs are short and sturdy, with five toes on each foot, and claws that are strong, curved and semi-retractile.’
      • ‘Their front feet have opposing digits and soft pads while their back feet have semi-webbed toes.’
      • ‘Wildcats have five toes on each of their forepaws, but only four toes on each back paw.’
      • ‘The hind feet of both animals bore just three toes; the front feet had three plus a greatly reduced fourth digit.’
      • ‘Their feet are not syndactylous, and the first toe of their hind feet is partially opposable.’
      • ‘They are ground birds, with very long hind toes and claws, like those of skylarks, and they have a habit of running about like wagtails, though without flicking their tails.’
      • ‘Therefore, we also drew a small sample of lymph from an incision made into the web between two toes of a hind foot.’
      • ‘As in the case of macropodid hind feet, the fourth toe is the longest and strongest.’
      • ‘The forefeet have four toes, which are easily manoeuvrable and used for grasping.’
      • ‘They have no eyelids, and all species have four fingers on each forelimb, five toes on each hind limb, and caudal fins.’
      • ‘The feet had four functional toes, the two central ones being larger and of equal size.’
      • ‘The foot bones are unfused and all four toes of each foot are functional and support the body.’
      • ‘Like American Three-toed Woodpeckers, they have three rather than four toes on each foot.’
      • ‘They have three toes like most ratites, and short middle phalanges.’
      • ‘In one genus, Rhynchocyon, this is carried to an extreme with the toes on the hind foot being reduced to three in number.’
      • ‘The fourth toe of the hind foot is the longest and strongest.’
      • ‘The legs are short, and the feet are plantigrade and have 5 toes.’
      • ‘It likely used its muscled shoulders and the enlarged claw on the second toe of each forelimb to grasp its prey.’
      • ‘The second and third toes of syndactylous species are mostly enclosed in a sheath of skin and appear fused, except for the claws.’
    2. 1.2 The part of an item of footwear that covers a person's toes.
      ‘socks that were holed at the toes’
      • ‘I grabbed onto the ledge just outside the window and started climbing down by squeezing the toes of my sneakers into the nooks of the brick building.’
      • ‘Her white woolen dress hung low, almost covering the toes of her own leather boots.’
      • ‘Her cloths weren't new, they were old and worn in and had holes in the knees and elbows and the toes of her sneakers were taped crudely.’
      • ‘The trend in dress shoes is more of a square toe, rather than wingtips.’
      • ‘If you make the toes a different colour, you needn't worry about having the fading match or the dye lots and you can just keep knitting new toes as required.’
      • ‘For the office, leather soles with closed toes are a fashion statement.’
      • ‘She was wearing a pair of ankle-high, chocolate-colored suede boots with narrow toes and tall, stiletto heels.’
      • ‘Little turquoise straps secure an apple-green sole, squared-off at the toe.’
      • ‘Here's another pair of ankle boots, only these boast a pointier toe.’
      • ‘I dropped my cigarette to the ground and put it out with the toe of my sneakers.’
      • ‘The duo behind the jeans has come out with a line of the most adorable mocs yet, featuring brightly colored fur lining and whimsical beaded designs on the toe.’
      • ‘She wore long black stockings and one of her shoes was missing a sole and the other had a hole near the toes.’
      • ‘I especially love the pointy toes and kitten heels, giving it extra style and some height, making it distinctly feminine.’
      • ‘Then there was the rider from California who wore high fashion boots with pointy toes and four inch spike heels.’
      • ‘Cloth shoes do not provide this protection, nor does footwear with open toes and/or heels.’
      • ‘She looked down at the thick carpet of her room, digging the toe of her sneakers into the floral pattern.’
      • ‘Anyway, just make sure they're flat and have a round toe and no strap.’
      • ‘I looked away from him and studied the toes of my sneakers as I tried to remember life before Dean.’
      • ‘Put powder in shoes, making sure to sift down into the toes.’
      • ‘Also known as slides, these types of shoes feature open heels or toes, and come in a variety of styles, shapes and colors.’
  • 2The lower end, tip, or point of something.

    • ‘A visit to the Island would never be complete without a trip to The Needles - that jagged outcrop of brilliant white rock at the toe of the island.’
    • ‘They wound up paddling through an ice maze on a lake at the toe of a glacier.’
    • ‘Instead of just latching together via a single bar at the toe, these components make a second connection that stabilizes the ski.’
    • ‘By morning, though, the storm had lifted, revealing snow-capped mountains with their toes dipping into the rolling Pacific breakers.’
    • ‘The following morning we climbed on, ascending steeply to reach the toe of the glacier that lead up to Syram and its unnamed pyramidal neighbour.’
    • ‘The turned tapering legs with carved upper sections and brass toes and castors are again typical of the William IV or early Victorian period.’
    1. 2.1 The tip of the head of a golf club, furthest from the shaft.
      • ‘Notice that the toe, not the face, of the golf club points to the sky.’
      • ‘A slightly shut clubface means the toe of the club points more out than normal when the shaft is parallel to the ground on the backswing.’
      • ‘If the toe is up, then well-struck shots will go to the left and you will need to flatten the lie.’
      • ‘Too many golfers hit the ball off the top of the clubhead, the bottom of the clubhead, the toe or the heel.’
      • ‘Because 99 percent of us bring the putter back with the toe slightly open, most misses are going to be pushed outside the intended line.’
      • ‘Notice how the toe of the club is pointed straight up here - the sign of a square clubface.’
      • ‘Also, with a flat lie angle, the toe could contact the ground first, sending the heel out in front and opening the clubface.’
      • ‘If the toe is up in the air, either the club is too long or the lie angle too upright.’
      • ‘It also stops me from reaching for the ball so much and losing shots off the toe.’
      • ‘Sure enough, she's hitting balls off the hosel, she's hitting it off the toe.’
      • ‘When I'm halfway into my backswing, I want to make sure the clubface is square - with the toe pointed straight up.’
      • ‘The key for me is playing the ball off the toe of my 60-degree wedge.’
      • ‘On those fast greens, I like to feel the toe of the club releasing, or fanning back to square, on the forward stroke.’
      • ‘That enables them to penetrate rough without the toe getting caught and opening the clubface.’
      • ‘Once you're holding a club, you will get it pointing down the target line with the toe pointing up.’
      • ‘The toe is going to catch the ground first and send the clubface wide open.’
      • ‘To be square, the toe of the club needs to point at the sky.’
      • ‘Next, swing the club halfway down, keeping the toe up and the shaft parallel to the target line.’
      • ‘I like to see a player putt the ball off the center of the putter, not back toward the heel or up toward the toe.’
      • ‘I'm sure the first player to turn the clubhead over on its toe and hit a ball from the opposite side wasn't trying to be innovative.’
    2. 2.2 The base of a cliff, slope, or embankment.
      ‘valley widening and river meandering have eroded the toe of the slopes and caused new landslides’
      • ‘It was decided to ignore the protective gabion walls alongside the toe of the embankment for the purpose of the ranking.’
      • ‘At the toe of the slope a rock pediment can be found.’
      • ‘At the place where it sprang from the toe of the valley wall I crouched down to dip my fingers in the fresh water.’
      • ‘Four ‘station stones’ set at the corners of a rectangle just inside the inner toe of the surrounding bank were also set up.’
      • ‘Site 863 is located at the toe of the landward trench slope above the subducted Chile Ridge, just south of the Chile Triple Junction.’
    3. 2.3 A flattish portion at the foot of an otherwise steep curve on a graph.
      ‘the contrast potential of the printing is indicated by the steepness of the curve from shoulder to toe’
    4. 2.4 A section of a rhizome or similar fleshy root from which a new plant may be propagated.

verbtoes, toeing, toed

  • 1with object and usually with adverbial Push, touch, or kick with one's toe.

    ‘he toed off his shoes and flexed his feet’
    • ‘Teigue wordlessly toed off his shoes, letting them hit the floor with two dull thuds.’
    • ‘‘Yeah,’ she mumbled and toed the ground with the tip of her dull black shoe.’
    • ‘Chloe toed off her sneakers then looked around, scrutinizing the room before company arrived.’
    • ‘He toed off his own shoes, setting them next to Tara's.’
    • ‘Out in the hall, Celia toed off her slides and fought to fit her light jacket in among the several already stuffed into the closet.’
    • ‘She toed off her shoes and lay down next to him, staring up at the constellation they had placed on his ceiling.’
    • ‘Aaron toes the ground with sincere humility, politely waiting out the pleasantries so he can get back to the field.’
    • ‘Out on the field, he watched the opposing pitchers as they warmed up, noting how they set up on the mound, toeing the left or right side or middle of the rubber.’
    • ‘I toed him a bit and he started to run away so I pinned him against the step with my mouse-kickers and called into the house for someone to come dispose of the furry creature.’
    • ‘It's only a walk, but couples come down to the water, toeing shells through the sand, the surf through the sound underneath.’
    1. 1.1Golf Strike (the ball) with the toe of the club.
  • 2toe in/outno object Walk with the toes pointed in (or out)

    ‘he toes out when he walks’
    1. 2.1 (of a pair of wheels) converge (or diverge) slightly at the front.
      ‘on a turn, the inner wheel toes out more’
      • ‘Whether the wheels are toed in or out, casters like this are prone to dynamic instability (wheel wobble) at higher speeds unless additional damping is provided.’
      • ‘The main wheels can be toed out allowing the aircraft to turn into the wind while the decklock harpoon remains engaged.’
      • ‘It has two test wheels (free running) toed in at 20 degrees to the longitudinal axis of the test vehicles.’


The phrase toe the line, derived from an earlier sense ‘stand with one's toes touching a line, as for a contest’, is sometimes misunderstood and written as tow the line. In the Oxford English Corpus around 15 per cent of the citations for the phrase are for the erroneous form


  • make someone's toes curl

    • informal Bring about an extreme reaction of embarrassment or delight in someone.

      ‘it made her toes curl just listening to him’
      • ‘I haven't eaten anywhere that has made my toes curl for, oh, weeks now.’
      • ‘This cuts out the opportunity for a serendipitous find - someone who doesn't match your check list, but still makes your toes curl.’
      • ‘I must say, it made my toes curl, just reading it.’
      • ‘I try to avoid looking at the artwork because it makes my toes curl.’
      • ‘I love my country, but there are times when our perceived collective reserve makes my toes curl.’
      • ‘He guided my face to meet his and gave me a gentle, perfect kiss that made my toes curl.’
      • ‘It's enough to make your toes curl - mine anyway.’
      • ‘You love to be catered to, that's what really makes your toes curl.’
      • ‘The man certainly knew how to make a girl 's toes curl, even if he was only a dream.’
      • ‘The following is a guide for all facets of giving a massage that will make his toes curl and bring him to much higher plain of ecstasy.’
  • on one's toes

    • Ready for any eventuality; alert.

      ‘he carries out random spot checks to keep everyone on their toes’
      • ‘Mick said there had been very strong competition for places within the panel which kept everyone on their toes.’
      • ‘I think it keeps you on your toes, it keeps you alert, it keeps you curious.’
      • ‘Keep him on his toes until he's ready to take command of the group.’
      • ‘If you have someone like that shouting all the time then it keeps everyone focused and on their toes.’
      • ‘If nothing else, this at least kept everyone on their toes.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, that's what makes bowling great - you've always got to be on your toes, be ready to make changes.’
      • ‘The remainder of the half was fought out superbly with the ebb and flow of the contest keeping everyone on their toes.’
      • ‘He could be uncharacteristically mean to a pompous speaker; his presence at meetings made sure everyone was on their toes.’
      • ‘Instead, keep on your toes, and be ready to switch to a better deal every few years.’
      • ‘There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, which requires the wine lover to be alert and on their toes.’
      alert, quick-witted, sharp, bright, quick, keen, perceptive, wide awake, responsive, agile, acute, astute
      View synonyms
  • toe the line

    • Accept the authority, policies, or principles of a particular group, especially unwillingly.

      ‘he knew that he had to toe the official line because he couldn't afford to be put on the dole’
      • ‘It is concerned with landing on the right theology and doctrine and making sure everyone else toes the line.’
      • ‘In Aberdeen, smokers and landlords appeared to be toeing the line.’
      • ‘And I think that you really have to toe the line and be very careful.’
      • ‘Now, that said, Brown has made some attempts at toeing the line.’
      • ‘Radio stations are pretty much forced to toe the line since they rely heavily on record companies for ad dollars and listener-grabbing perks like contests, interviews and concerts.’
      • ‘Watson is still under intense pressure to resign after the revelation that he breached the strict rule of collective responsibility which forces members of the government to toe the line on policy.’
      • ‘Well, it appears she has a firmer grasp on these values than those who desire to see debate one-sided and stifled, while reserving intimidation tactics for those who refuse to meekly toe the line.’
      • ‘It was my perception that I was being sent a signal of how things might be if I didn't toe the line.’
      • ‘We toed the line for a few days, then ignored him.’
      • ‘These types are stumbling over themselves to conform and toe the line.’
      conform, follow convention, be conventional, follow tradition, follow custom, fit in, adapt, adjust, follow the crowd, run with the pack, swim with the stream
      conform, obey the rules, comply with the rules, observe the rules, abide by the rules, adhere to the rules, act in accordance with the rules, follow the rules, keep to the rules, stick to the rules
      View synonyms
  • toe to toe

    • (of two people) standing directly in front of one another, especially in order to fight or argue.

      ‘there's little skill involved—you just stand toe to toe and hit each other!’
      • ‘Whitaker was a highly skilled boxer who could stand toe to toe and make his opponent miss with superior head and body movement.’
      • ‘Burns' normal crisp punching style was fraying at the edges but he still stood toe to toe with the champion throughout the tenth.’
      • ‘Both stood toe to toe in the tenth, but a fierce left to the chin from Harrison rattled the champ again.’
      • ‘The video here shows competitors going toe to toe.’
      • ‘It's sometimes about standing toe to toe and battling with people for a long period.’
      • ‘Where their predecessors in the ring had both comported themselves as if points were being awarded for artistic impression, these two stand toe to toe and flail at each other with apparently random fists, knees and elbows.’
      • ‘The final three minutes proved to be some of the best in an absorbing contest as the fighters stood toe to toe and exchanged some heavy punches that would have floored lesser men.’
      • ‘Both fighters gave the fans a lot to cheer about as they often stood toe to toe in the middle of the ring.’
      • ‘This was a man quite capable of going toe to toe with the intellectual establishment and most importantly, able to do that with charisma and eloquence.’
      • ‘I stepped up to the plate and looked at it as a chance to show I could stand toe to toe with the champ.’
  • tread on someone's toes

    • Offend someone by encroaching on their area of responsibility.

      ‘I have no wish to tread on the toes of colleagues with local interests’
      hurt someone's feelings, give offence to, affront, upset, displease, distress, hurt, wound, pain, injure, be an affront to, get someone's back up, put someone's back up, disgruntle, put out, annoy, anger, exasperate, irritate, vex, pique, gall, irk, provoke, rankle with, nettle, needle, peeve, tread on someone's toes, ruffle, ruffle someone's feathers, rub up the wrong way, make someone's hackles rise, insult, humiliate, embarrass, mortify, scandalize, shock, outrage, spite
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  • turn up one's toes

    • informal Die.

      ‘the house will be yours when I turn up my toes’
      • ‘Why I had a problem with renting I'm not sure, I have no children to leave property too should I turn up my toes and historically, for me property has never been a good investment.’
      • ‘If my wife and I turn up our toes in an untimely way, I'd far rather he be adopted by a caring and responsible gay couple than even a slightly less caring straight one.’
      • ‘She still resolutely refuses to turn up her toes.’
      • ‘On the other hand, there are many, many others who cannot wait for the old hag to turn up her toes.’
      • ‘Seuss - a big, beardy chap who looked like nothing so much as the leader of a doomsday cult - turned up his toes and went to the great grickle-grass field in the sky on September 24, 1991, aged 87.’
      • ‘Whatever we may find to criticise about good old Auntie, let us pause for a moment and reflect on what we'd get if she should ever turn up her toes.’
      • ‘They have looked at almost 20,000 patients who were discharged after heart attacks and looked at the relative risk of turning up one's toes within one year after discharge.’
      • ‘Now we can either turn up our toes or find some way through all this.’
      • ‘Many of the plants mentioned in the pages of Chris's book would quickly turn up their toes if asked to grow in some of our soggy Lakeland frost-pockets.’
      • ‘He points out this, snaps you off a bit of that, tells you how these ones flourished and those ones turned up their toes.’
      pass away, pass on, lose one's life, depart this life, expire, breathe one's last, draw one's last breath, meet one's end, meet one's death, lay down one's life, be no more, perish, be lost, go the way of the flesh, go the way of all flesh, go to glory, go to one's last resting place, go to meet one's maker, cross the great divide, cross the styx
      View synonyms


Old English tā, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tee and German Zeh, Zehe. Current senses of the verb date from the mid 19th century.