\ ˈdēp-ˈsiks How to pronounce deep-six (audio) \
deep-sixed; deep-sixing; deep-sixes

Definition of deep-six

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to get rid of : discard, eliminate legislators voting to deep-six a government program
2 slang : to throw overboard

deep six


Definition of deep six (Entry 2 of 2)

: a place of disposal or abandonment used especially in the phrase give it the deep six

Did you know?

Before the introduction of shipboard sonar, water depth was measured by hand with a sounding line. This was generally a rope weighted at one end, with bits of leather called marks tied on at intervals to measure the fathoms. Between the marks, fathoms were estimated by deeps. The leadsman (pronounced LEDZ-mun) lowered the line into the water and called out the depth as the rope passed through his hands: "By the mark twain!" at two fathoms; "By the deep six!" at six fathoms. Perhaps due to an association with "six feet under" (dead and buried), to give something the deep six (or to deep-six it) was to throw it overboard, or, by extension, to discard it. In the mid-20th century, deep-six made landfall; since then it has been used as much by landlubbers as by old salts.

First Known Use of deep-six


1952, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1929, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deep-six


from the leadsman's call by the deep six for a depth corresponding to the sixth deep on a sounding line

Learn More About deep-six

Time Traveler for deep-six

Time Traveler

The first known use of deep-six was in 1929

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About deep-six

Dictionary Entries Near deep-six

deep-sea tube


deep six

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for deep-six

Cite this Entry

“Deep-six.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!