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Slippery slope is a subtle and powerful English expression. Are there any expressions that are opposite or contrasting of that expression?

The sense of slippery slope I have in mind is Small compromise, e.g. moral, leading to debasement of principles. So an opposite sense might be fortitude in the face of laxity leads to greatness.

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  • 2
    How would that even work? "Hitting a wall", meaning all progress in given direction entirely halted after initial steps? "Overreaction" where minor steps in given direction cause a rapid move in the opposite?
    – SF.
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:28
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    Can you give an example of where you would use that expression? As with all such questions, context is everything.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:36
  • One possibility could be safe zone?
    – MikkoP
    Nov 22, 2012 at 15:10
  • update posted.. Nov 22, 2012 at 15:15
  • Steep learning curve?
    – Mitch
    Nov 22, 2012 at 15:22

4 Answers 4

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Following OP's updated clarification...

hold the line - maintain the existing position or state of affairs

...is the opposite of go down the slippery slope.


Personally, I like to suggest that at the first sign of the camel's nose poking into the tent, people should show manly fortitude. The road to Hell is paved with thin ends of the wedge, so to speak.

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If a slippery slope is an idea or course of action which will lead to something unacceptable, wrong, or disastrous (that's from NOAD), then one way to make an "opposite" of that would be to describe a course of action that will lead to something fruitful or prosperous – such as an education.

With that in mind, one expression you could use is toehold: a relatively insignificant position from which further progress may be made.

UPDATE: I was composing my answer as you were composing your update – now it seems like my answer is off-the-mark. Still, I'll leave it here as an example of why it's so important to clarify what you are asking about, particularly when it comes to "opposite" questions, since words and expressions can have more than one opposite (the opposite of light can be dark or heavy, for example).

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  • i wouldn't say off the mark, seems quite appropriate. Nov 22, 2012 at 15:23
  • I concur with @ted.strauss. It lies precisely and admirably within the metaphorical field of OP's phrase: if slippery slope describes the first step in an all-too-easy downward course, toehold describes the first step in a difficult upward course. Bravo. Nov 22, 2012 at 17:02
  • It was a tough call but I found the other answer to be a slightly better fit. Nov 23, 2012 at 1:36
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Slippery slope generally refers to situations where you have a positive feedback effect.

The opposite of positive feedback is negative feedback.

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  • I think probably today the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they see positive/negative feedback is favourable/unfavourable reactions (from readers, users, interested parties, etc.). So for OP's context it might be better to explicitly state feedback loop. Nov 22, 2012 at 18:14
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Post-ity plank.

Tongue-in-cheekily, I am as assured this idea is not heading us towards some slippery slope as I am that it will be like trodding a Post-ity plank.

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    I don't get it. Plank is flat unlike slope, ok. What does Post-ity mean or have to do with slippery? Nov 22, 2012 at 18:26
  • Post-it notes are sticky.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 22, 2012 at 18:27
  • Ohhhhhh post-it notes! chuckle. Nov 22, 2012 at 18:28
  • Google tells me there are no instances at all of "Post-ity plank" out there. So I suppose pretty soon this page will be a Googlewhack, but I don't think it's an answer. Nov 22, 2012 at 19:35
  • Nor where any others but why so dour that a precise coinage fits better than slippingly talking around a question. I am reminded: Gooogewhack in Googlewhack out. It was such when I arrived and will remain when I go. Thanks for the down votes.
    – lex
    Nov 23, 2012 at 12:52

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