Ask the Editor
Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large
'To walk a fine line'
Thursday July 23rd 2009
'To walk a fine line'

A fine line is a very small difference.

In this sense, fine means thin. So a fine line is a very thin line, used figuratively to refer to a small difference or distinction between things:


There's a fine line between testing someone and entrapping them.

Sometimes there's only a very fine line between genius and madness.

A fine line exists between keeping it tasteful and going over the top.




The expression to walk a fine line is often used to mean "to achieve or maintain a balance" or "to be very close to two different ideas or attitudes at the same time":


He walked the fine line between confidence and cockiness.

Her family walks a fine line between modernity and fundamentalism.

Teachers walk a fine line of trust between their students and what their parents need to know.