Out on a Limb

Meaning of Idiom ‘Out on a Limb’

To be out on a limb means to be in a situation where you lack support from other people; to be in a vulnerable or awkward position. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

This idiom can also have a more literal meaning, to climb out onto the limb of a tree where it is dangerous, as a child might.

Usage

Typically used with be, put, leave, or go:

  • be out on a limb
  • put (someone) out on a limb
  • leave (someone) out on a limb
  • go out on a limb

Out on a limb idiom meaning

Examples Of Use

“I’m already out on a limb, recommending you to be the new head of sales,” said Susan. “Don’t make it worse by demanding a bigger office!”

“The president is out on a limb claiming that global warming is a hoax.”

“Thomas was out on a limb when he said that the movie industry was due for a shakeup and that streaming technology would change everything.”

“I stood up for all the other workers and complained about the safety conditions at the plant but they left me out on a limb when management asked them about the problems.”

“You can climb that oak tree if you want, but don’t go out on a limb. You could fall or the limb could break,” said Mom.

Origin

Used since the late 1800s, this idiom alludes to an animal climbing out onto the small limb of a tree, which offers little support, and being unable or unwilling to move. 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

More Idioms Starting with O

More Limb Idioms

More On Idioms

More Out Idioms

Sources   [ + ]

1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms]. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2, 3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.