feet of clay

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Related to feet of clay: led by the nose
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top: a human foot
bottom: on a sewing machine


n. pl. feet (fēt)
1. The lower extremity of the vertebrate leg that is in direct contact with the ground in standing or walking.
2. A structure used for locomotion or attachment in an invertebrate animal, such as the muscular organ extending from the ventral side of a mollusk.
3. Something suggestive of a foot in position or function, especially:
a. The lowest part; the bottom: the foot of a mountain; the foot of a page.
b. The end opposite the head, top, or front: the foot of a bed; the foot of a parade.
c. The termination of the leg of a piece of furniture, especially when shaped or modeled.
d. The part of a sewing machine that holds down and guides the cloth.
e. Nautical The lower edge of a sail.
f. Printing The part of a type body that forms the sides of the groove at the base.
g. Botany The base of the sporophyte in mosses and liverworts.
4. The inferior part or rank: at the foot of the class.
5. The part of a stocking or high-topped boot that encloses the foot.
a. A manner of moving; a step: walks with a light foot.
b. Speed or momentum, as in a race: "the only other Democrats who've demonstrated any foot till now" (Michael Kramer).
7. (used with a pl. verb) Foot soldiers; infantry.
a. A unit of poetic meter consisting of stressed and unstressed syllables in any of various set combinations. For example, an iambic foot has an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable.
b. In classical quantitative verse, a unit of meter consisting of long and short syllables in any of various set combinations.
9. Abbr. ft. or ft A unit of length in the US Customary and British Imperial systems equal to 12 inches (0.3048 meter). See Table at measurement.
10. foots Sediment that forms during the refining of oil and other liquids; dregs.
v. foot·ed, foot·ing, foots
1. To go on foot; walk. Often used with it: When their car broke down, they had to foot it the rest of the way.
2. To dance. Often used with it: "We foot it all the night / weaving olden dances" (William Butler Yeats).
3. Nautical To make headway; sail.
1. To go by foot over, on, or through; tread.
2. To execute the steps of (a dance).
3. To add up (a column of numbers) and write the sum at the bottom; total: footed up the bill.
4. To pay; defray: footed the expense of their children's education.
5. To provide (a stocking, for example) with a foot.
at (someone's) feet
Enchanted or fascinated by another.
best foot forward
A favorable initial impression: He always has his best foot forward when speaking to his constituents. Put your best foot forward during an employment interview.
feet of clay
An underlying weakness or fault: "They discovered to their vast discomfiture that their idol had feet of clay, after placing him upon a pedestal" (James Joyce).
foot in the door Slang
1. An initial point of or opportunity for entry.
2. A first step in working toward a goal.
get (one's) feet wet
To start a new activity or job.
have one foot in the grave Informal
To be on the verge of death, as from illness or severe trauma.
have (one's) feet on the ground
To be sensible and practical about one's situation.
on (one's) feet
1. Standing up: The crowd was on its feet for the last ten seconds.
2. Fully recovered, as after an illness or convalescence: The patient is on her feet again.
3. In a sound or stable operating condition: put the business back on its feet after years of mismanagement.
4. In an impromptu situation; extemporaneously: "Politicians provide easy targets for grammatical nitpickers because they have to think on their feet" (Springfield MA Morning Union).
on the right foot
In an auspicious manner: The project started off on the right foot but soon ran into difficulties.
on the wrong foot
In an inauspicious manner: The project started off on the wrong foot.

[Middle English fot, from Old English fōt; see ped- in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: In Standard English, foot and feet have their own rules when they are used in combination with numbers to form expressions for units of measure: a four-foot plank, but not a four feet plank; also correct is a plank four feet long (or, less frequently, four foot long). When foot is combined with numbers greater than one to refer to simple distance, however, only the plural feet is used: a ledge 20 feet (not foot) away. At that speed, a car moves 88 feet (not foot) in a second.
Our Living Language In certain contexts, some people in New England and the South use constructions such as three foot and five mile in place of Standard English three feet and five miles. Some speakers extend this practice to measures of time, as in He was gone three year, though this is not as common. See Note at plural

feet′ of clay′

an unexpected weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person.

feet of clay

An unsuspected weakness; from the idea of a marble or bronze statue being imperfect or cheaply finished.
pieds d'argile
References in classic literature ?
It is the feet of clay that make the gold of the image precious.
As a Muslim, and a Pakistani-American, I still love America, but I have discovered that the gods of America have feet of clay.
They're written for adults, but comic-book-loving kids over 12 can appreciate them too (as long as you don't mind exposing them to heroes with feet of clay, or pictures of giant phalluses).
And he's stuck with Bond Street" Jeremy Corbyn hits back at David Cameron "When a child says his or her ambition is to be rich and famous, somebody somewhere needs to point out that sometimes there are feet of clay, and that fame isn't a guarantee of virtue, goodness, or kindness" Broadcaster Esther Rantzen speaking after the publication of the report on Jimmy Savile
Yes, it was a long time ago and Wells is certain of his innocence but, if any of our heroes have feet of clay, we deserve to know.
SIMON MIGNOLET may have a touch of gold in his gloves, but he must change his feet of clay to secure a long-term Anfield future.
even as local gods showed feet of clay, failing sons.
This has all the tropes of light, romantic fiction: sudden independence, big city, fashion, glamorous adults with feet of clay, bad boy with a soft side.
NO FEET OF CLAY Nadal wants to defy his doubters in Paris
But none of this is as bizarre as Indians continuing to flock to godmen despite evidence surfacing every now and then of them being men with feet of clay.
His topics include exploring the "century" issue, evaluating China's place in the world, feet of clay, whose century, and toward Sino-US re-engagement.