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[tuhch-uh n-goh] /ˈtʌtʃ ənˈgoʊ/
risky; precarious:
a touch-and-go descent down the mountain.
hasty, sketchy, or desultory.
Origin of touch-and-go

touch and go

a precarious or delicate state of affairs:
It was touch and go there for a while during the operation.
quick action or movement:
the touch and go of city traffic.
1645-55 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for touch-and-go
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This touch-and-go sort of battling was too strenuous even for the giant Cimmerian.

    The Hour of the Dragon Robert E. Howard
  • He managed to elude his fellow-countrymen as it happened, but it was "touch-and-go" with him.

  • It was touch-and-go with me all the time from the soup down, I assure you.'

    A Diversity of Creatures Rudyard Kipling
  • But it was no joking matter with, me either, my dear fellow; it was touch-and-go at the time.

    A Thief in the Night E. W. Hornung
  • It was, indeed, touch-and-go with Mary Wing's male cousin, here at the turning-point of his life.

    Angela's Business Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • It had been only touch-and-go, but the man's warm Irish heart had saved him.

    The Littlest Rebel Edward Peple
  • I was glad that when riding this road in the dark I had not realised it was in quite such a touch-and-go condition.

    Through the Land of the Serb Mary Edith Durham
  • These touch-and-go experiments form no part of the strict duties of the chulo; his exclusive province is the banderilla.

  • This was touch-and-go; but I fired my remaining barrel a little lower than the first shot.

    In the Heart of Africa Samuel White Baker
British Dictionary definitions for touch-and-go

touch and go

(touch-and-go when prenominal) risky or critical: a touch-and-go situation
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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touch-and-go in Culture

touch and go definition

Uncertain or precarious: “The doctors told the patient that, even though her disease was in remission, from now on it was touch and go.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for touch-and-go



  1. : a quick ten-or twenty-dollar touch (1846+)
  2. A small serving of food or drink


  1. (also touch up) To get or borrow money, a loan, etc; hit: Who better to touch up than the richest guys in town? (1760+)
  2. To deal with or handle something or someone •Usu in the negative: won't touch that one

Related Terms

soft touch

[touch up variant may be influenced by British touch up, ''to grope a woman'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with touch-and-go

touch and go

Extremely uncertain or risky, as in It was touch and go after the surgery; we were not sure he'd survive it, or It was touch and go but they finally gave me a seat on the plane. This idiom implies that a mere touch may cause a calamity. [ Early 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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