tread lightly meaning, tread lightly definition | English Cobuild dictionary

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  ( treads    plural & 3rd person present)   ( treading    present participle)   ( trod    past tense)   ( trodden    past participle  )
1       verb   If you tread on something, you put your foot on it when you are walking or standing.  
Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to tread on your foot...      V on n  
2       verb   If you tread in a particular way, you walk that way.  
LITERARY   She trod casually, enjoying the touch of the damp grass on her feet.      V adv  
3       n-sing   A person's tread is the sound that they make with their feet as they walk.  
WRITTEN   supp N, N of n  
We could now very plainly hear their heavy tread.     
4       verb   If you tread carefully, you behave in a careful or cautious way.  
If you are hoping to form a new relationship tread carefully and slowly to begin with...      V adv  
5       n-count   The tread of a step or stair is its flat upper surface.  
He walked up the stairs. The treads were covered with a kind of rubber and very quiet.     
6       n-var   The tread of a tyre or shoe is the pattern of thin lines cut into its surface that stops it slipping.  
The fat, broad tyres had a good depth of tread.     
7    If someone is treading a fine line or path, they are acting carefully because they have to avoid making a serious mistake, especially in a situation where they have to deal with two opposing demands.  
tread a fine/delicate/narrow line/path      phrase   V inflects, oft PHR between pl-n  
They have to tread the delicate path between informing children and boring them...     
8    If you tread a particular path, you take a particular course of action or do something in a particular way.  
tread a path      phrase   V inflects  
He continues to tread an unconventional path...     
9    If someone who is in deep water treads water, they float in an upright position by moving their legs slightly.  
tread water      phrase   V inflects  
10    If you say that someone is treading water, you mean that they are in an unsatisfactory situation where they are not progressing, but are just continuing doing the same things.  
tread water      phrase   V inflects  
I could either tread water until I was promoted, which looked to be a few years away, or I could change what I was doing.     
    to tread on someone's toes  
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