Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small indentation or ledge on which the toe of a shoe can find support in climbing.
  • n. A slight or initial yet significant advantage useful for future progress: Family connections gave her a toehold in politics.
  • n. Sports A wrestling hold in which one competitor wrenches the other's foot.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A foothold small enough to support just the toe.
  • n. Any small advantage which allows one to make significant progress.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a small foothold used in climbing
  • n. a wrestling hold in which the toe is held and the leg is twisted against the joints
  • n. a relatively insignificant position from which future progress might be made

Etymologies

From toe +‎ hold. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Republicans a long-term toehold in a region that has trended away from them for the last decade.

    Hotline On Call

  • "Our toehold, which is robust and impressive, is slipping," Romer said.

    Boston Business News - Local Boston News | Boston Business Journal

  • One area where exclusive distribution deals have already gained more than a toehold is the music industry.

    New Rules Project - Designing Rules As If Community Matters

  • Nick pulls himself out of it and deftly maneuvers into a toehold, which is a counter I've never seen done.

    Scott's Blog of Doom

  • Establish that kind of toehold, you'll likely be able to say more and more as time goes on.

    Marc Hershon: Nine Ways to Get Noticed (Without Compromising Yourself)

  • What kind of toehold do the Taliban have, not just in these tribal regions, but fundamentally across the country?

    CNN Transcript Oct 19, 2009

  • The notion that, if the U.S. hadn't given the Tunisian government hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid over the past two and a half decades, while helping train its military and security forces, a shadowy fringe group calling itself "al-Qaeda in the Maghreb" might have established a "toehold" in the country was daft.

    Breaking News: CBS News

  • We are perfectly able to imagine courses on Buddhist philosophy or rabbinic Judaism - both of which involve what we would call "theological" argument and commentary on authoritative texts - without worrying that this would represent some kind of toehold for religious indoctrination.

    Inside Higher Ed

  • Once Washington gains a toehold-and considering government controls 49 cents on every health care dollar spent, by "toehold" I mean "bearhug" - it is an inescapable reality that whatever it comes up with will be expansive and expensive.

    Reason Magazine

  • That "toehold," as Museum of the City of New York chief curator Sarah Henry calls it, became the focal point of New Netherland, a colony reaching from present-day Connecticut to Delaware.

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