Become a walking encyclopedia with this medley of walking idioms

Elephants walking to represent walking idiomsInstead of setting myself the usual vague New Year’s resolutions I decided this year to sign up to a personal challenge: to walk 1000 miles during 2017.

So it seems only right that my first blog post of the year should be walking related – namely, walking idioms.

As with most idioms, few of these actually have anything to do with the act of putting one foot in front of the other…

A round-up of walking idioms and sayings

All walks of life = all social, economic and ethnic groups

Blaze a trail = be the first to do something, thus setting an example for others to follow

Cock of the walk = undisputed leader of a group

Dead man walking = someone who’s in great trouble and is sure to get punished

Go the extra mile = make more effort than is expected

Go walkabout = wander from place to place in a leisurely manner

Go walkies = go missing, usually as a result of theft

Over the hill = past one’s best; in decline

Run before one can walk = try to do something complicated and/or difficult before learning the basic skills

Take a hike = go away (generally used in the imperative as an expression of annoyance or irritation)

Take a long walk off a short pier = go away and leave me alone (see above)

Take a stroll/trip/walk down memory lane = reminisce over happy memories of past events

Take a walk on the wild side = engage in risky, raucous or adventurous behaviour

Up hill and down dale = confronting many obstacles on an arduous journey or in the fulfilment of an arduous task

Public footpath signWalk a fine/thin line (between something) = carefully balance two competing ideas or groups

Walk a mile in (someone’s) shoes = try to understand someone’s perspective, experiences or motivations before criticizing or judging them

Walk a tightrope = be in a situation where you must be very cautious; be very careful not to annoy or anger people who could become enemies

Walk all over (an opponent) = defeat easily

Walk all over (someone) = treat someone very badly or without respect; take advantage of someone

Walk away scot-free = escape from some predicament, accusation or wrongdoing without incurring any penalty or punishment

Walk in the park = something that’s easy to do or accomplish

Walk on air = be so happy you feel as if you could float

Walk on eggshells/eggs = be extremely cautious about one’s words or actions so as not to cause upset, anger or offence

Walk on sunshine = be really happy

Walk on thin ice = proceed very cautiously; be in a precarious position

Walk the chalk = have one’s sobriety tested

Walk the green mile = be heading towards the inevitable

Walk the line (also Toe the line) = conform to an established standard or political programme

Walk the plank = be forced to resign from a job

Walk the walk/talk = back up one’s words with suitable action

Walking encyclopedia = someone with an impressive knowledge of facts

Walking on broken glass = when a person is punished for something

Walking time-bomb = person whose behaviour is erratic and totally unpredictable

When I started compiling this post, my intention was to also include idioms about feet, shoes and boots. But I wasn’t expecting to find so many walking idioms, so I’ve decided to save those for another day.

Meanwhile, if you have any other walking related idioms or sayings that you think deserve a mention, please do let me know below.

(Images courtesy of africa and Simon Howden via

Posted in Idioms Tagged with: , ,
2 comments on “Become a walking encyclopedia with this medley of walking idioms
  1. Denise Valuk says:

    Thanks for the insight.

    And as for your walking goal, You Can Do It! I hiked a 1000 miles in 2015 and it changed my life. Enjoy the journey!

    • Glad you found the post of interest, Denise.

      Many thanks for your words of inspiration! It’s very early days still, but I’m hoping the challenge will have all-round benefits. It certainly gave me the nudge today to go out for a speedy 3/4 hour around the block in the cold & dark, which I wouldn’t have done otherwise 🙂

Have your say