foothold

[foot-hohld]
noun
1.
a place or support for the feet; a place where a person may stand or walk securely.
2.
a secure position, especially a firm basis for further progress or development: They gained a foothold in the New York market before beginning their national campaign.

Origin:
1615–25; foot + hold1

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
foothold (ˈfʊtˌhəʊld)
 
n
1.  a ledge, hollow, or other place affording a secure grip for the foot, as during climbing
2.  a secure position from which further progress may be made: a foothold for a successful career

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

foothold
1620s, from foot + hold.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
We faced inward, moving slowly from one handhold and foothold to the next.
The familiar bridge, on which so many of our safe sea-days have been spent, is
  canted at an angle that makes foothold uneasy.
The fot: fet type of plural secured but a momentary foothold.
Although they can release their muscular foothold to tumble in a current-a few
  can even swim freely-they are rarely in a hurry.
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