touch-and-go

Anything that's touch-and-go is precarious or uncertain. A doctor might gravely describe a patient's prognosis as touch-and-go, meaning that she's not certain whether the patient will recover.

When you hope for a certain outcome but aren't sure whether it will happen, that's a perfect time to use the adjective touch-and-go. If you and your opponent are running neck-and-neck, the student council elections are also touch-and-go. This word most likely comes from a 17th- and 18th-century chasing game similar to tag.

Definitions of touch-and-go
  1. adjective
    fraught with danger
    “dangerous surgery followed by a touch-and-go recovery”
    synonyms: parlous, perilous, precarious
    dangerous, unsafe
    involving or causing danger or risk; liable to hurt or harm
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