false step

noun
1.
a stumble.
2.
an unwise or blundering act.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
false step
 
n
1.  an unwise action
2.  a stumble; slip

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

false step

A stumble or blunder, as in Making a down payment without securing a mortgage was clearly a false step. This term transfers physical stumbling or tripping to other enterprises. [c. 1700]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
One false step, a stumble, would have sent us whirling into space.
Through a false step he came between a slowly moving train and tho high freight platform, and was rolled along for several feet.
Fer a time he haW succeed ed in cowing them, but a single false step must destroy him.
One false step and they would sink beneath the ice to die miserably.
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