Tirare la corda

Tirare la corda in Italian

Tirare la corda
To take things too far, to push one’s luck

Literal translationTo pull the rope
MeaningTo push someone’s patience to the limit, to go too far
IPA pronunciation/tiˈraːre la ˈkɔrda/

Where does this come from? The rope or string this idiom talks about is that of a bow. If you have ever tried to shoot an arrow (freccia) with an old, wooden bow, arco, you will know that you need a great deal of strength to pull the bowstring toward you. And if you pull it too hard, it may end up breaking!

This expression is also found as tirare troppo la corda, “to pull the rope too much”.

Tirare can also translate “to throw, to toss”. For example, you can throw a ball, tirare una palla. In this case, however, it means “to pull”. To throw a rope is translated as lanciare una corda.

ninja throwing a rope

For example, you can say…

Questa volta hai tirato troppo la corda. Smettila subito!
You have taken it too far this time. Stop it now!

L’uomo lancia la corda al di là della recinzione.
The man throws the rope over the fence.

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