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float (one's) boat

To make someone happy. Often used in the phrase "whatever floats (one's) boat." A: "What do you want for dinner?" B: "Whatever floats your boat, I'm not even hungry." I think this new job in the lab will really float Isabel's boat.
See also: boat, float

float an idea

To suggest something in order to gauge interest in it or others' perception of it. Can you float the idea of closing the office early on Fridays in the summer, to see how management reacts?
See also: float, idea

not float (one's) boat

To not be particularly enjoyable, desirable, or exciting to someone. A: "They're showing Casablanca in the student theater, do you want to go?" B: "No thanks, black and white movies don't really float my boat." Well, the thought of spending my weekend weeding the back yard for a few bucks doesn't exactly float my boat, Dad.
See also: boat, float, not

whatever floats (one's) boat

Whatever makes one happy; whatever interests or excites (one). Most often heard as "whatever floats your boat." A: "What do you want for dinner?" B: "Whatever floats your boat, I'm not even hungry." Katelyn does whatever floats her boat without worrying about what other people think of her.
See also: boat, float, whatever

sink or swim

1. verb To either be successful right away or succumb to failure. The teacher expects you to have all the background material already learned, so you'll have to sink or swim the moment you start the course.
2. noun A situation in which one must either be successful right away or succumb to failure. In such a competitive business, it's always sink or swim for new companies looking to enter the market.
See also: sink, swim

float a trial balloon

To suggest something in order to get feedback on it. The phrase alludes to the now outdated use of balloons to get information about the weather. When everyone objected to my idea, I reassured them that I was just floating a trial balloon and had not made any sort of decision on the matter.
See also: balloon, float, trial

float a loan

Fig. to get a loan of money; to arrange for a loan of money. I couldn't afford to pay cash for the car, so I floated a loan. They needed money, so they had to float a loan.
See also: float, loan

float around

to float from here to there freely. All sorts of paper and trash were floating around on the surface of the pond. Water hyacinths floated around, making a very tropical scene.
See also: around, float

float into something

1. Lit. to move on water or in air into something. The huge cruise ship floated majestically into the harbor. The kite floated into a tree and was ruined.
2. Fig. to move into something gently, as if floating. She floated into the room, looking like Cinderella before midnight. Tom and Gloria floated into the theater like a king and queen. They must have rehearsed it.
See also: float

float on air

Fig. [for someone] to feel free and euphoric. I was so happy, I was floating on air. Mary was floating on air after she won first prize.
See also: air, float, on

float through something

1. Lit. to move slowly through water or air, gently. The boats floated through the water slowly and gracefully. As the clouds floated through the sky, they cast blotchy shadows on the ground.
2. Fig. [for someone] to move aimlessly through something. (As if semiconscious.) She has no ambition. She's just floating through life. He floated through his work that day. It is probably done all wrong.
See also: float, through

float (up)on something

to drift as if on the surface of something; to drift along through the air. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) The little tufts of dandelion seeds floated upon the breeze. The fluff floated on the breeze.
See also: float, on

sink or swim

Fig. to fail or succeed. (Alludes to the choices available to someone who has fallen into the water.) After I've studied and learned all I can, I have to take the test and sink or swim. It's too late to help John now. It's sink or swim for him.
See also: sink, swim

Whatever turns you on.

1. Inf. Whatever pleases or excites you is okay. Mary: Do you mind if I buy some of these flowers? Bill: Whatever turns you on. Mary: I just love to hear a raucous saxophone play some smooth jazz. Bob: Whatever turns you on, baby.
2. . Inf. a comment implying that it is strange to get so excited about something. (Essentially sarcastic.) Bob: I just go wild whenever I see pink gloves on a woman. I don't understand it. Bill: Whatever turns you on. Jane: You see, I never told anybody this, but whenever I see snow falling, I just go sort of mushy inside. Sue: Weird, Jane, weird. But, whatever turns you on.
See also: on, turn, whatever

sink or swim

Succumb or succeed, no matter what, as in Now that we've bought the farm, we'll have to make a go of it, sink or swim. This expression alludes to the former barbaric practice of throwing a suspected witch into deep water, often weighted down. In case of sinking, the victim died; in case of swimming, the victim was considered in league with the devil and therefore was executed. A related idiom, float or sink, was used by Chaucer in the late 1300s; Shakespeare had the current form in 1 Henry IV (1:3): "Or sink or swim."
See also: sink, swim

float someone's boat

If something floats your boat, you find it exciting, attractive, or interesting. Create a space for yourself: light candles, burn incense, run a bath — whatever floats your boat. I can see the band's appeal. But it doesn't float my boat.
See also: boat, float

sink or swim

If someone has to sink or swim, they have to try to succeed on their own, and whether they succeed or fail depends completely on their own efforts and abilities. After three years of teaching and support at music college, musicians are left to sink or swim in the profession. Note: You can use sink-or-swim before a noun. Tomorrow afternoon, it's sink-or-swim time, her first game.
See also: sink, swim

float a trial balloon

COMMON If someone floats a trial balloon they suggest an idea or plan in order to see what people think about it. The administration has not officially released any details of the president's economic plan, although numerous trial balloons have been floated. Note: Other verbs can be used instead of float. Weeks ago, the Tories were flying a trial balloon about banning teacher strikes. Note: You can call an idea or suggestion that is made to test public opinion a trial balloon. The idea is nothing more than a trial balloon at this point. Note: Balloons were formerly used to find out about weather conditions.
See also: balloon, float, trial

float someone's boat

appeal to or excite someone, especially sexually. informal
See also: boat, float

sink or swim

fail or succeed entirely by your own efforts.
See also: sink, swim

float/walk on ˈair

(informal) be very happy about something: When I passed my driving test, I was walking on air for days.
See also: air, float, on, walk

float somebody’s ˈboat

(informal) be what somebody likes: You can go swimming, hiking or just lie on the beach, whatever floats your boat.
See also: boat, float

ˌsink or ˈswim

(saying) be in a situation where you will either succeed without help from other people, or fail completely: The government refused to give the company any help, and just left it to sink or swim.
See also: sink, swim

float around

1. To be or move in a nonspecific or unknown location: That pen must be floating around here somewhere. The travelers floated around the countryside, stopping here and there to eat and rest.
2. To move around while suspended on the surface of a fluid without sinking; float in no particular direction: Empty bottles and other debris float around in the cove at low tide.
See also: around, float

float an air biscuit

tv. to break wind; to fart. (see also cut a muffin.) Who floated the air biscuit? P.U.
See also: air, biscuit, float

whatever turns you on

and whatever floats your boat
tv. whatever excites you or interests you. (Main entry was said originally about sexual matters.) I can’t stand that kind of music, but whatever turns you on. Ketchup on hot dogs! Yuck! But whatever floats your boat.
See also: on, turn, whatever

whatever floats your boat

See also: boat, float, whatever

sink or swim

To fail or succeed without alternative.
See also: sink, swim
References in periodicals archive ?
All the oil terminal storage tanks have stationary roofs; however, the internal floatable screen with circular sealants is installed not in all of them (Table 3).
The maximum floatable particle size can be calculated by solving Equation (9) numerically.
33) Medical debris can include syringes, blood vials, bandages and specimen cups, many of which are now made of plastic and can become floatable debris.
Justin Carter exhibits Boatent, a floatable boat/tent hybrid made in Grizedale and so nearly practical that you can imagine it being sold through those Innovations magazines.
Primary clarifier effluent is water with the settleable and floatable solids removed.
Two other features put into the pool area that became popular with the kids were an 8-foot-long floatable lobster and a 5-foot-long floatable crab.
Two other features put into the pool area that became very popular with the kids were an 8-foot-long floatable lobster and a 5-foot-long floatable crab.
Plate design allows floatable solids to float to plates rising up to surface of cell.
Another little thing I'll mention is that the state of Georgia has asked our Dublin mill to do some unusual things, one of which is to begin to monitor floatable plastics in the effluent stream.
There, a ferry approached the ship carrying the 83 waterproof, floatable crates containing the weapons.
That it rests on the illusion of a floatable mattress of Styrofoam (a material that will outlast even the cockroach in our planet's final convulsions) suggests a quotidian tidal awareness that some waste cannot be flushed away.
In another application, the use of water jets generated at moderate pressure is believed to offer distinct advantages over conventional mechanical machines for the selective agglomeration of coal particles into coalescent floatable aggregates.