Definition of toehold in US English:



  • 1A small place where a person's foot can be lodged to support them, especially while climbing.

    • ‘Michael stood below him, placing the young climber's feet into the toeholds afforded by the sheer rock wall.’
    • ‘Her hands grasped the tiniest cracks and protuberances and without thought to where they would take her, her feet scrambled for the slightest toehold!’
    • ‘Janet carefully swung one leg over the sill and rested her small foot on the narrow toehold as she shifted the rest of her through the opening.’
    • ‘She fell back and tried again several times until, as I silently urged her on, she finally managed to get a toehold with her right front foot on top of the lower, two-board side of the corner.’
    • ‘He begins his ascent rapidly, flinging the rope upward around the trunk to create a high handhold, kicking a leg up to snag a toehold, flinging the rope again for a higher handhold to pull to still higher toeholds.’
    • ‘One step after another I fumbled for a toehold, my legs weak and my grip moist.’
    • ‘Carved toeholds allow access around one drop-off and into a slot canyon that's no more than an arm span across.’
    • ‘Her feet seemed to take on an intelligence of their own, searching out desperate toeholds on the creek-bottom.’
    • ‘Your weight shifts and, incredibly, your right foot catches a toehold.’
    foothold, hold, grip, anchorage, purchase, secure position, firm contact, support
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A relatively insignificant position from which further progress may be made.
      ‘the importance of networking at conventions to gain a toehold in the industry’
      • ‘Companies in other sectors, such as food processing and timber, are also keen to establish toeholds in Eastern Europe.’
      • ‘It'll be a toehold for the organisation in Europe.’
      • ‘We have to show them they can't have a toehold in Leeds, that there is no place for people who sow seeds of hatred and division.’
      • ‘Having established a toehold, the parent company then looks to expand with further acquisitions.’
      • ‘And they are appealing for the public to use the hotline to help stop other dealers from getting a toehold here.’
      • ‘It's easy to read themes of ecology and anti-industrialism into what are extremely overbuilt industrial cities where nature has to fight for a toehold.’
      • ‘This is what New York is and has always been about; immigrants setting up shops or market stalls to get a toehold in their new home.’
      • ‘This ‘additional functionality’ should be removed, he advises, and the operating system secured so attackers cannot get the necessary toehold on the system.’
      • ‘Younger workers, who have used computers their entire lives, are now gaining a toehold in the workplace.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, he has already failed as far as many families are concerned, and many of those who have managed to get a toehold on home ownership now have such a huge debt that they live in fear of the smallest rise in interest rates.’
      • ‘Minor blister pain can advance from a low simmer to a fiery torture in the space of a few miles, so don't let it get a toehold in the gap between your feet and your socks and shoes.’
      • ‘Furthermore, his trademark fusion of ornate mysticism and lurid pop-art aesthetics had taken a toehold in New York's art scene as well.’
      • ‘The French reached Cayenne in 1604, and the Dutch arrived in 1616, but Britain did not gain a permanent toehold until 1796.’
      • ‘If any form of sexual license is condemned then it leaves a toehold for other forms of sexual license to be condemned.’
      • ‘So how can first-time buyers find ways out of this situation and at least get a toehold on to the elusive housing market ladder?’
      • ‘It prefers to begin its expansion programme in new countries by gaining a toehold - or minority interest - rather than making a big initial acquisition.’
      • ‘Quite simply, local young people are being squeezed right out of the housing market, quite unable to contemplate gaining even a toehold.’
      • ‘He realises that his party is battling hard to retain a toehold in what was once its bastion.’
      • ‘Few independent comic artists have succeeded in gaining a toehold in the lucrative spin-off market.’
      • ‘They didn't abandon their culture, and they didn't even really change it - they just got a toehold on prosperity.’