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circle the drain

To be in a state of severe deterioration such that one is approaching inevitable ruin, failure, or death. Usually used in the continuous form. The company's closure was inevitable, as it has been circling the drain for the last six months. Her political career began to circle the drain after news of her affair came to public light. He was already circling the drain when the decision was made to take him off life support.
See also: circle, drain

drain the main vein

vulgar slang Of a male, to urinate (where "main vein" is slang for the penis). Will you order us another round of drinks? I'm just going to go drain the main vein real quick.
See also: drain, main

Up to (one's) neck in alligators

business adage The full expression is some variation of: "When you are up to your neck in alligators, it's easy to forget that the goal was to drain the swamp." It is easy to be so overcome or preoccupied by various tangential worries, problems, or tasks that one loses sight of the ultimate goal or objective. I've spent so much time dealing with various infrastructure problems for my new business that I've had no time to actually develop our product properly. I guess it's easy to forget, when up to your neck in alligators, that the mission is to drain the swamp.
See also: alligator, neck, up

go down the drain

To fail; to be ruined or destroyed; to be squandered or wastefully discarded. My father's company is now going down the drain because of the incompetent new CEO. All of our savings have gone down the drain ever since Jack had his little gambling spree in Las Vegas.
See also: down, drain

brain drain

The loss of educated and skilled workers to other locations, often ones that provide better financial compensation or job opportunities. The state has some of the nation's best universities, but it suffers from brain drain as graduates often flee to find more lucrative job opportunities elsewhere.
See also: brain, drain

drain away

[for something] to flow away. All the water drained away and exposed the mud and rocks on the bottom of the pond. When the water drained away, we found three snapping turtles in the bottom of the pond.
See also: away, drain

drain from something

to flow out of something. All the dirty oil drained from the engine. The milk drained from the leaky container and covered the bottom of the refrigerator.
See also: drain

drain out

to flow out or empty. All the milk drained out of the container onto the bottom of the refrigerator. All the oil drained out of the crankcase.
See also: drain, out

drain someone or something of something

Fig. to exhaust someone or something of something, such as energy, motivation, etc. This day has drained me of all my motivation. The first performance drained the cast of all its energy.
See also: drain, of

drain something away

(from something ) to channel some liquid away from something. Drain all of the standing water away from the foundation of the house. Drain away the water from the foundation.
See also: away, drain

drain something from someone or something

to cause something to flow out of someone or something. The farmers drained the water from the flooded fields. The doctor drained the fluids from Roger after his operation.
See also: drain

drain something of something

to empty something out of something. He drained the glass of the remaining beer.
See also: drain, of

drain something off something

 and drain something off to cause or permit something
to flow from the surface or contents of something. Drain some of the broth off the chicken. Drain off the fat at the bottom of the pan.
See also: drain, off

drain something out of something

 and drain something out
to cause something to flow from something; to empty all of some liquid out of something. She drained the last drop out of the bottle. She drained out all the water in the pot.
See also: drain, of, out

pour money down the drain

Fig. to waste money; to throw money away. What a waste! Buying that old car is just pouring money down the drain. Don't buy any more of that low-quality merchandise. That's just throwing money down the drain.
See also: down, drain, money, pour

down the drain

wasted or lost down the toilet I'm scared I'm going to be out of a job, and my 12 years of experience will be down the drain.
Usage notes: often used with go: We cannot afford to let our train system go down the drain.
See also: down, drain

a brain drain

the movement of people with education and skills from their own country to another country where they are paid more for their work There is a brain drain of British mathematicians to the United States.
See also: brain, drain

down the drain

  (British, American & Australian informal) also down the gurgler (Australian informal)
if work or money goes down the drain, it is wasted Then our funding was withdrawn and two years' work went down the drain. Say he gives up his training, that's four thousand pounds down the gurgler.
See also: down, drain

laugh like a drain

  (British & Australian)
to laugh very loudly I told her what had happened and she laughed like a drain.
See also: drain, laugh, like

brain drain

The departure of educated or talented persons for better pay or jobs elsewhere, as in The repression of free speech in Germany triggered a brain drain to Britain and America. The term originated about 1960, when many British scientists and intellectuals emigrated to the United States for a better working climate.
See also: brain, drain

down the drain

On the way to being lost or wasted; disappearing. For example, Buying new furniture when they can't take it with them is just pouring money down the drain , or During the Depression huge fortunes went down the drain. This metaphoric term alludes to water going down a drain and being carried off. [Colloquial; c. 1920] For a synonym, see down the tubes.
See also: down, drain


n. the movement of intellectuals from one country to another where the pay and job opportunities are better. Where there is a good education system, there will always be a brain-drain.

circling (the drain)

tv. & in. to be in the final process of dying; to be in extremis. (Jocular but crude hospital jargon.) Get Mrs. Smith’s son on the phone. She’s circling the drain.
See also: circle, drain

down the drain

mod. gone; wasted. A lot of money went down the drain in that Wilson deal.
See also: down, drain

drain the bilge

tv. to empty one’s stomach; to vomit. Fred left quickly to drain the bilge.
See also: drain

drain the dragon

tv. [for a male] to urinate. (see also dragon = penis.) Bobby? He went to drain the dragon.
See also: dragon, drain

make drain babies

n. to masturbate (male). (The genetic material goes down the drain. Clever but contrived.) My social life stinks. I’m limited to making drain babies.
See also: baby, drain, make

down the drain

To or into the condition of being wasted or lost: All of our best laid plans are down the drain.
See also: down, drain
References in periodicals archive ?
Removing the soil and draining the water should cut enough pressure and stabilize the roadside, he said.
Over the past few months, we have jointly investigated illegal ditching and draining of wetlands in North Carolina and have been coordinating enforcement efforts," Said Bill Holman, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Protection for DENR.
Currently, EPA is investigating a number of sites where ditching and draining activities may have violated federal law.
Draining the fuel filters also gets rid of condensation that results from cool nights and hot days.
City employees discovered that water at a Newhall Land construction site was improperly draining into the river and halted the process immediately, said Travis Lange, the city's environmental services manager.
They need an extra reminder on the proper way to drain these basins so that the whole goal of these desilting basins is not lost in draining them.
Once a campaign with the proper hearth contour is underway, thorough slag draining will eliminate the most common cause of buildups.
However, you can improve draining by ``double-digging'' areas of your yard where standing water is present.
All of the urban runoff does end up draining into our rivers, streams and oceans,'' said Vicki Musgrove, the district's storm water quality section manager.
Not draining the separator leaves water and crud in the fuel system.
Asian cooks typically rinse their noodles after draining them since the noodles have a lot of starch, and they like noodles to separate.
Environmentalists fear that draining the lagoon will dry up hundreds of acres and kill plants and animals that have come to depend on the soggier surroundings.
Draining the lagoon exposes acres of wetland and dumps thousands of organisms into cold salt water, he said.