What does the idiom "on a shoe string" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. on a shoe string meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "on a shoe string"


The phrase 'on a shoestring' is a common idiom that is used to describe someone who is trying to accomplish something with very limited resources or funds. It usually refers to those who are either living on a limited budget or are attempting to make something out of nothing without any form of financial support. This phrase is often used in reference to entrepreneurial endeavors, but it can also refer to any kind of project that requires an individual to make do with what they have.


The phrase 'on a shoestring' originated in the late 1800s in the United States. At the time, the phrase was often used to describe the resourcefulness of someone who was trying to launch a business without a lot of financial backing. Those individuals who were trying to make a go of it on their own were said to be "trying to make it on a shoestring." The phrase is a reference to the shoestrings of the time, which were commonly used to bind shoes together. Thus, the phrase implies that someone is attempting to survive “on a shoestring budget,” tying their finances together as tightly and efficiently as possible.


Today the phrase 'on a shoestring' is still used to refer to an individual who is trying to accomplish something with limited funds or resources. It is often used in reference to entrepreneurs who are attempting to launch a business without any financial backing, but it can also be used to refer to a wide variety of projects. It is typically used in a positive sense, as a testament to someone’s resourcefulness and ability to make something out of nothing.

Example Sentences

  • John was able to build a successful business on a shoestring budget.
  • After losing their jobs, the couple decided to make it work by living on a shoestring.
  • Their project was funded on a shoestring, so they had to get creative with their resources.

The meanings of the words in the "on a shoe string" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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