sink or swim

Updated on: 11 Sep 2017

Definition of sink or swim

used to refer to a situation in which someone either must succeed by his or her own efforts or fail completely
  • They left me to sink or swim on my own.
  • In this job, it's sink or swim.

Word by Word Definitions

sink play
  1. : to go to the bottom : submerge

  2. : to become partly buried (as in mud)

  3. : to become engulfed

  1. : a pool or pit for the deposit of waste or sewage : cesspool

  2. : a ditch or tunnel for carrying off sewage : sewer

  3. : a stationary basin connected with a drain and usually a water supply for washing and drainage

swim play
  1. : to propel oneself in water by natural means (such as movements of the limbs, fins, or tail)

  2. : to play in the water (as at a beach or swimming pool)

  3. : to move with a motion like that of swimming : glide

  1. : a smooth gliding motion

  2. : an act or period of swimming

  3. : a temporary dizziness or unconsciousness

  1. : of, relating to, or used in or for swimming


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