on the line: meaning and explanation

If something is on the line, then it is at risk. This idiom can be used in any situation when something could be lost or harmed. Your health could be on the line, your home, your career, your marriage, even your life.

This idiom can be used with the verb ‘put’ when talking about the action of risking something. e.g. If you want to be a firefighter, then you have to be prepared to put your life on the line on a daily basis.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: North America

Paul .
Paul lot of close – I think his job .
Paul is a lot of pressure close this – I think his job is the line.

…Paul’s under a lot of pressure to close this deal…

Notice the expression under pressure – this is a very useful collocation to use when describing a situation where you experience pressure or stress. e.g. I’m under pressure to work this Saturday, but I really don’t want to.

The expression to close a deal is used to say that a business negotiation has been successfully concluded and a deal has been agreed. e.g. We made them a very good offer for the car, but unfortunately we couldn’t close the deal.

Discussion question

Write your answer to this question in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Can you remember a time when your job was on the line?
  • Would you ever consider working in a profession where you had to put your life on the line?

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