Etymology
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foothold (n.)

1620s, "that which sustains the feet and prevents them from slipping," from foot (n.) + hold (n.). Figurative use by 1650s: "stable ground from which to act" (compare sense evolution in footing).

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Definitions of foothold

foothold (n.)
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
foothold (n.)
a place providing support for the foot in standing or climbing;
Synonyms: footing
foothold (n.)
an initial accomplishment that opens the way for further developments;
they are presently attempting to gain a foothold in the Russian market
Synonyms: beachhead
From wordnet.princeton.edu