toe·​hold | \ ˈtō-ˌhōld How to pronounce toehold (audio) \

Definition of toehold

1a : a hold or place of support for the toes (as in climbing)
b(1) : a means of progressing (as in surmounting barriers)
(2) : a slight footing used his money to get a toehold, then a foothold, then a near stranglehold on the political economy— R. W. Armstrong
2 : an illegal wrestling hold in which the aggressor bends or twists the other wrestler's foot

Examples of toehold in a Sentence

American companies looking for toeholds in foreign markets.

Recent Examples on the Web

Many applicants run a gantlet of internships and tryouts before getting a toehold on a permanent job. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "The Job Advice You Wish You Knew How to Give," 6 May 2019 Pfizer is throwing in with other big drug companies trying to expand their footprint in cancer or gain a toehold, even as many startups hunt for new therapies, too. Jared S. Hopkins, WSJ, "Pfizer Pivots to Cancer Drugs for Growth," 27 Jan. 2019 Ruthie, separated from her husband, is scrabbling to keep her toehold in the middle class after being forced out of her job at a local museum by a conniving board member. New York Times, "4 Writers to Watch This Summer," 17 May 2018 But a Johannesburg residency and an international art fair opening in Brooklyn next week aim to help some young women get a toehold on the ladder. Todd Pitock, New York Times, "Two Projects Helping Female Artists in Africa Find Their Voices," 26 Apr. 2018 MedMen is seeking a toehold in Florida because of the rapid growth of the state’s medical marijuana program, according to spokesman Daniel Yi. Marcia Heroux Pounds,, "Want a job legally selling pot? You could be in luck: Florida's medical marijuana industry is beginning to take off," 25 June 2018 So that was kind of my toehold as a filmmaker: to understand that [Rogers’s story] feels so simple but actually has so much complexity. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Morgan Neville on making a movie about Fred Rogers’s “radical kindness”," 8 June 2018 Advanced yarns and fibers aren’t straight but rather split into multiple branches, providing channels for water to pass through, and their surfaces are crafted to be rough so odor-causing bacteria can’t get a toehold. Matt Gross, WSJ, "The Best Shirts and Shorts for Keeping Sweaty Runners Dry," 7 June 2018 Humanity now has only a toehold in space, and microgravity science is so new that the equipment to do it is just now being developed and tested. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "How Space Crystals Could Lead To New Cancer Drugs," 5 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'toehold.' 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 toehold

1880, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Dictionary Entries near toehold



toe hardie





Statistics for toehold

Last Updated

11 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for toehold

The first known use of toehold was in 1880

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More Definitions for toehold



English Language Learners Definition of toehold

: a place where your toes may be placed when you are climbing a cliff, a mountain, etc.
: a position that makes it possible to begin an activity or effort

More from Merriam-Webster on toehold

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with toehold

Nglish: Translation of toehold for Spanish Speakers

Comments on toehold

What made you want to look up toehold? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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