tip·​toe | \ ˈtip-ˌtō How to pronounce tiptoe (audio) , -ˈtō \

Definition of tiptoe

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: the position of being balanced on the balls of the feet and toes with the heels raised usually used with on also : the ends of the toes
on tiptoe
: alert, aroused the contest of skill that puts one on tiptoe to winDeerfield (Wisc.) Independent


tiptoed; tiptoeing

Definition of tiptoe (Entry 2 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to walk or proceed quietly or cautiously on or as if on tiptoe tiptoe around the issue
2 : to stand or raise oneself on tiptoe



Definition of tiptoe (Entry 3 of 4)

: on or as if on tiptoe



Definition of tiptoe (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : standing or walking on or as if on tiptoe

Examples of tiptoe in a Sentence

Verb She tiptoed through the puddle. He tiptoed quietly around the house to avoid waking the children. Adverb She had to stand tiptoe to reach the shelf.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Pro leagues and collegiate conferences tiptoe through the minefields, somehow finding closure but losing all relevance along the way. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "On a murky night, Warriors’ big picture has clarity," 13 Jan. 2021 Rather than tiptoe around the issue, as presidents have so far, Biden should name and shame these bad actors—and take powerful action to stop them. Lydia Millet, The New Republic, "Why Biden Should Declare a Climate Emergency," 7 Dec. 2020 Davis kept the bag containing the mammoth rattlesnake by his bed, and Betty Morris recalls watching dozens of patients and staff tiptoe into the room to gawk, a few of whom ran shrieking down the hall afterward. Keith Mccafferty, Field & Stream, "F&S Classics: A Taste of Death," 16 Nov. 2020 There are egrets, pelicans, and roseate spoonbills dabbling their clown-shoe beaks in the shallow water for tasty crustaceans — like the tiny crabs scuttling everywhere that keep nervous hikers on tiptoe. Daniel Lee, National Review, "The Art of Parallel Purposes," 7 Sep. 2020 In the land of spandex bottoms, few things rival the best yoga pants—and finding a pair of workout leggings that’s a tiptoe away from pajamas can be as satisfying as falling asleep in Shavasana. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "The 15 Best Yoga Pants for Doing All of the Things, According to Yoga Instructors," 17 Aug. 2020 The water level in the tank gets lowered by 200 gallons so that, on tiptoe, a wet-suited Gilboa can shout instructions. James T. Bartlett, Los Angeles Times, "In coronavirus lockdown, Union Station’s aquarium loses its fans but not its keepers," 6 May 2020 Late-night carousers started appearing at three in the morning to ask for a hot baguette, swaying on tiptoe at a high ventilation window by the oven room, a hand outstretched with a euro coin. Bill Buford, The New Yorker, "Baking Bread in Lyon," 6 Apr. 2020 Still, the heart of this fundraiser beats for Ballet Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson, who this year celebrates a record-breaking 35 seasons on his tiptoes, leading this world-class company in exquisite artistry. Catherine Bigelow, SFChronicle.com, "Holiday Heroes take the field at Oracle Park for 10th annual fundraiser," 30 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Biden administration can take several steps to tiptoe back from the brink of disaster while maintaining national security. The Editors, Scientific American, "Biden Must Take Immediate Action to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear War," 18 Feb. 2021 But the researchers hope to eventually use D-Wave to tiptoe beyond current theoretical predictions. quantamagazine.org, "Physicists Study How Universes Might Bubble Up and Collide," 25 Jan. 2021 That was the quicksand that the Pac-12 tried to tiptoe into, just as the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States rose steadily again. John Branch, New York Times, "At Cal, a Single Positive Test May Wipe Out Two Football Games," 6 Nov. 2020 What tactics can one use to tiptoe through a conversation with a staunchly religious person to make the point that, in fact, humans are responsible for warming the climate? Karin Kirk, Scientific American, "What Conversations with Voters Taught Me about Science Communication," 10 Nov. 2020 Competitive runners could soon face a familiar 2020 dilemma, as some race directors tiptoe forward with plans for in-person events, even as coronavirus cases climb again nationwide. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "How to Run a Race in a Time of Surging Coronavirus," 28 Oct. 2020 Travelers have to tiptoe around the topic, emphasize every safety measure taken or keep the trip secret for fear of critics questioning their common sense, priorities, and morals or character. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, "Vacation police: Travelers posting trip photos or asking for tips risk social media wrath during pandemic," 24 Aug. 2020 Vietnamese desserts tiptoe the line between savory and sweet with utter elegance and astounding ease. Sovi Wellons, Bon Appétit, "Chè Ba Màu Is Pure Bliss in Summer’s Sticky Heat," 12 Aug. 2020 Decades after Till's murder, Christian and Melody said many black people in America still tiptoe through daily life. CBS News, ""That act was unmistakably racist": Christian Cooper speaks out after viral encounter with white dog-walker," 9 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tiptoe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of tiptoe


14th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1661, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1592, in the meaning defined above


1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for tiptoe

Time Traveler

The first known use of tiptoe was in the 14th century

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Statistics for tiptoe

Last Updated

24 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tiptoe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tiptoe. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for tiptoe



English Language Learners Definition of tiptoe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to walk with your heels raised up and only your toes touching the ground



English Language Learners Definition of tiptoe (Entry 2 of 2)

: with your toes touching the ground and your heels raised up


tip·​toe | \ ˈtip-ˌtō How to pronounce tiptoe (audio) \

Kids Definition of tiptoe

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: the position of being balanced on the balls of the feet and toes with the heels raised usually used with on He stood on tiptoe.


adverb or adjective

Kids Definition of tiptoe (Entry 2 of 3)

: on or as if on the balls of the feet and toes with the heels raised I walked tiptoe past the dog.


tiptoed; tiptoeing

Kids Definition of tiptoe (Entry 3 of 3)

: to walk on the balls of the feet and toes with the heels raised

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