The idiom skating on thin ice to express that a person is performing an action that has a great risk is commonplace. What are some good alternatives, both common and uncommon or possibly regional?

  • Am i missing something, or does that not belong here, please? Why would you not ask your own search engine, then consider the results, then come here with specific queries about what didn't seem to work for you? May 12, 2020 at 21:17
  • @RobbieGoodwin You may be missing the fact that this is a 9-year-old question, which was marginally acceptable at the time but is clearly lacking according to current standards.
    – Hellion
    May 12, 2020 at 21:19
  • Oops! thanks, Hallion… I did miss the date… May 12, 2020 at 21:50

7 Answers 7


To greater or lesser degrees of risk and stupidity:

  • Walking on the edge
  • Asking for trouble
  • putting yourself at risk
  • loading up the footgun
  • skating down the edge of a razorblade
  • pissing on the third rail
  • walking/driving on the railroad tracks
  • trying to shoot the moon
  • jumping the Grand Canyon on a skateboard
  • walking a tightrope
  • operating without a net
  • playing with fire
  • licking a frozen flagpole
  • letting the bull into the china shop
  • 2
    To me, trying to shoot the moon and jumping the Grand Canyon are more about infeasibility/impossibility/futility than risk. Mar 17, 2011 at 20:14
  • 1
    I think of licking a frozen flagpole as an activity that is more stupid than risky. Mar 17, 2011 at 20:15
  • 2
    Yes, it certainly does fall on the "stupid" side of risky. :-)
    – Hellion
    Mar 17, 2011 at 21:05
  • 1
    You are a scholar and a gentleman! Answer awarded for the most comprehensive list.
    – Wesley
    Mar 18, 2011 at 3:52
  • I think you're out on a limb with that list.
    – Hot Licks
    May 12, 2020 at 17:48

"On thin ice" can also refer to a situation out of your control. The proverbial skater didn't necessarily choose the thin ice but is nonetheless in a risky place. Alternatives to this connotation (branching a bit further away from consciously taking a risk):

  • Out of the frying pan, into the fire
  • Doomed
  • Writing on the wall
  • Ah yes, it could mean less of an intentional risk and more of a circumstantial risk. Thanks!
    – Wesley
    Mar 18, 2011 at 3:54

How about "pushing your luck"?


Playing a dangerous game is another alternative with a similar meaning.

  • Hanging by a Thread
  • Playing Russian Roulette
  • Kissing Charlie Sheen
  • Ahhh the Russian Roulette metaphor. I should use that one more... even if it is a bit grisly. =)
    – Wesley
    Mar 18, 2011 at 3:55
  • Kissing Charlie Sheen? That's... new. =)
    – Wesley
    Mar 19, 2011 at 4:14

I have some more

Swimming in the deep end of a ocean

Jumping a volcano

Driving a vehicle without stopping

  • 1
    Oceans have deep ends? May 12, 2020 at 21:36

"Walking on eggshells" has a similar, but not identical, connotation.

  • 5
    Almost opposite connotation: skating on thin ice means taking a reckless risk; walking on eggshells means behaving very cautiously because you believe the situation to be inherently risky. Mar 17, 2011 at 5:35

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