keep (somebody) on (their) toes


1. make sure that somebody is alert and focused






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high levels of competition keeps people on their toes

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The idiom 'to keep somebody on their toes' means to challenge someone in a way where they become alert and ready to handle problems. When you 'keep someone on their toes' you make sure they are alert and focused rather than relaxed.

Check Icon Social Examples (Advance)

  1. There's no room for boredom in my house because with two small children to look after, I'm always kept on my toes!
  2. Having a squad that allows for high competition for places within the team is a great way of keeping the players on their toes.

Check Icon Professional Examples (Advance)

  1. Even though some people find it very stressful, I like the challenge of having to hit monthly sales targets because it keeps me on my toes.
  2. Emily likes to keep her students on their toes by surprising them with tests every so often. It seems to be having the desired effect because their performance levels have increased.

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