foothold

A foothold is a flat or steady area on which you can put your foot when you're climbing. Part of the trick to rock climbing is learning to find good footholds.

A literal foothold is wide enough for you to fit your foot and sturdy enough to hold your weight, and a figurative foothold gives you this same sense of security, usually setting you up to make progress. For example, your first published magazine piece can give you a foothold in the field of freelance writing. This sense of foothold dates from the mid-17th century, meaning "stable ground from which to act."

Definitions of foothold
  1. noun
    a place providing support for the foot in standing or climbing
    synonyms: footing
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    types:
    toehold
    a small foothold used in climbing
    type of:
    support
    any device that bears the weight of another thing
  2. noun
    an area in hostile territory that has been captured and is held awaiting further troops and supplies
    “the only foothold left for British troops in Europe was Gibraltar”
    synonyms: bridgehead
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    types:
    airhead
    a bridgehead seized by airborne troops
    beachhead
    a bridgehead on the enemy's shoreline seized by an amphibious operation
    type of:
    combat area, combat zone
    a military area where combat forces operate
  3. noun
    an initial accomplishment that opens the way for further developments
    “they are presently attempting to gain a foothold in the Russian market”
    synonyms: beachhead
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    type of:
    accomplishment, achievement
    the action of accomplishing something
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