American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A sharp cutting edge.
- n. A sharp, narrow edge or border: "saying lines that teeter on the knife-edge between literature and lunacy” ( Vincent Canby).
- n. A wedge of metal used as a low-friction fulcrum for a balancing beam or lever.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The wedge-like piece of steel which serves as the axis on the fine edge of which a scale-beam, a pendulum, or any thing required to oscillate with the least possible friction rests and turns. See balance.
- n. A piece of steel sharpened to an acute edge or angle, and resting on a smooth surface, serving as the axis of motion of a pendulum, scale beam, or other piece required to oscillate with the least possible friction.
- n. figuratively A precarious balance that could be upset by a very small force in either direction.
- n. Used other than as an idiom: the edge of a knife.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Mech.) A piece of steel sharpened to an acute edge or angle, and resting on a smooth surface, serving as the axis of motion of a pendulum, scale beam, or other piece required to oscillate with the least possible friction.
- n. the sharp cutting side of the blade of a knife
- n. a narrow boundary
“And after Davies gives a number of remarkable facts about the incredible fine-tuning of the universe, he adds, “The cliché that “life is balanced on a knife-edge” is a staggering understatement in this case: no knife in the universe could have an edge that fine.””
“He wears black clothes, pants creased to a knife-edge, loose shirts with mandarin collars.”
“One of the more irritating tropes in economic journalism is the "knife-edge" metaphor.”
“My view of the economy is that there is no knife-edge, and that the recovery has a long way to go before inflation becomes a legitimate worry.”
“Despite the team's rise from the brink, the season essentially remains on a knife-edge.”
“But Fox News had to suddenly cut away from Palin to hear third place loser Jon Huntsman flap his jaws.9.40pm: Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner uses an apt sports metaphor:9.39pm: Back to the knife-edge battle between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum: with 46% of precincts in, Gingrich is a mere 74 votes ahead of Santorum.”
“The maid with the twisted arms lay below in the thicket and kept watch on the knife-edge passage.”
“He tried to save himself by throwing his body across the knife-edge; but at that moment he knew death.”
“Then came the rush, five policemen, in single file, with superb steadiness, running along the knife-edge.”
“He gazed into the gulf on either side and ran his eyes along the knife-edge he must travel.”
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