hold someone's feet to the fire

Idioms & Phrases

hold someone's feet to the fire

Also, keep someone's feet to the fire. Pressure someone to consent to or undertake something, as in The only way you'll get him to agree is to hold his feet to the fire. This idiom alludes to an ancient test of courage or form of torture in which a person's feet were so placed. It began to be used figuratively in the second half of the 1900s. Also see hold a gun to someone's head.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: hold purse strings
Next Definition: hold stage
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for hold someone's feet to the fire
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing hold someone's feet to the fire
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature