Idioms and Phrases

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.


draw the line

draw the line

- to define a limit in anything
- think of or treat one thing as different from another
- to set the limit of what you are willing to do
- to never do something because you think it is wrong
- Refuse to go any further than

1. It all depends on your concept of fiction and where you draw the line between fact and fiction.
2. So at what point do we consider the fetus a baby? We’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
3. I am going to draw the line about working more than forty hours a week.
4. Please draw the line in the sand for the beach ball game.
5. I swear quite a lot but even I draw the line at saying certain words.
6. I draw the line at giving them more money.

This expression alludes to a line drawn at a stopping point of some kind. [Late 1700s].

A form of tennis has been played by Englishmen at least since the time of Henry the Eighth of England in the sixteenth century. It probably came to court from France. In the early days lines were drawn to establish the boundaries of the court. By as early as the middle of the eighteenth century the idiom, “to draw a line” was used to mean establishing a limit for something. Also, this may have been derived from the lines drawn for the space between opposition parties in Parliament, so as to put an end to injuries from sword fights.

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