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Your English: Idioms: edge

Type: Article

We’re on the edge of our seats for this instalment of Tim Bowen’s idioms!

It is hard to imagine that cooking is a particularly exciting or risky profession but, according to a recent news article, ‘Chefs tend to be very dramatic personalities, who like living dangerously and living on the edge’. If you are on edge, on the other hand, you are nervous and unable to relax because you are worried about something, and if you are on the edge or close to the edge, you are so unhappy or confused that you are close to doing something stupid or losing your mind.

If you have an edge over someone, you have an advantage over them and if something gives you the edge, it gives you that advantage, as in ‘The use of various stimulants has given some professional cyclists the edge over their rivals’.

If you find yourself on the edge of something, you are nearly in a particular state or condition, as in ‘He seemed to be poised on the edge of Hollywood success’, while if you are on the edge of your seat, you are very excited and interested in something because you want to know what happens next, as in ‘It was a really exciting film and I was on the edge of my seat most of the time’.

If something takes the edge off a particular feeling, taste or sensation, it makes it less strong or intense, as in ‘Aspirin will usually take the edge off the pain’ or ‘I’ll have a splash of lemonade in that whisky to take the edge off’.

The word edge itself can be used to describe a strange quality that something such as a piece of music or a book has that makes it interesting or exciting, as in ‘there’s an edge to his new album that wasn’t there in the last one’.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • We seem to be edging ever closer to perfection in English.

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  • Fabulous stuff! Always.

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