This morning on the BBC’s “Newshour” program, Razia Iqbal spoke of efforts’ being “under foot” to do something—I think to rescue the boys from the cave in Thailand. (I was getting ready for work and didn’t make a note.) Good old Razia Iqbal. Always good for a malapropism or two.
The metaphor under foot (or underfoot) means “in the way”, “presenting an impediment”. What Ms. Iqbal probably meant was either “on foot” (or “afoot”), an obvious metaphor, or “under way“, a metaphor borrowed from navigation, meaning “moving forward”. (In Two Years Before the Mast, if I remember right, Dana writes “under weigh”, presumably thinking that it has something to do with weighing anchor. I suspect he’s wrong.)