at sea

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Related to at sea: All at Sea

at sea

1. Literally, sailing on the sea in a boat or ship. A: "Is your mother at sea yet?" B: "Yes, her cruise lasts several weeks."
2. Puzzled, perplexed, or completely confused (about a subject or some task at hand). I tried to do well in this class, but I've been at sea since we started.
See also: sea
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

(all) at sea (about something)

Fig. to be confused; to be lost and bewildered. (Alludes to being lost at sea.) When it comes to higher math, John is totally at sea.
See also: sea

at sea

1. Lit. on the sea; away on a voyage on the ocean. The ship is at sea now, and you can't disembark. I spent many happy days at sea on my cruise.
2. Fig. confused; at a loss. Bill was at sea over the calculus problem. Reading economic theory leaves me feeling at sea.
See also: sea
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

at sea

1. Aboard a ship, on the ocean, as in Within a few hours the ship would be out at sea. During World War II a famous American newscaster addressed his radio broadcasts to listeners everywhere, including "all the ships at sea." [1300s]
2. Also, all at sea. Perplexed, bewildered, as in She was all at sea in these new surroundings. This idiom transfers the condition of a vessel that has lost its bearings to the human mind. Charles Dickens used it in Little Dorrit (1855): "Mrs. Tickit ... was so plainly at sea on this part of the case." [Second half of 1700s]
See also: sea
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

(all) at sea

confused or unable to decide what to do.
1993 Sheila Stewart Ramlin Rose She had a lot of bodily sufferin. Mr Statham and the Girls couldn't stand it; they was all at sea.
See also: sea
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017


n. cocaine. (Drugs. A spelling-out of C.) I never used sea before. I hear there’s nothing like it.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

at sea

1. On the sea, especially on a sea voyage.
2. In a state of confusion or perplexity; at a loss.
See also: sea
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

at sea, to be/all

To be bewildered, to have lost one’s way. Presumably it reflects the idea of literally having lost one’s bearings while at sea. It was so used by Dickens and other nineteenth-century writers.
See also: all, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
(2006), "The Territorial Temptation: A Siren Song at Sea," The American Journal of International Law 100: 840.
"I've seen the Coast Guard detain the entire 80-man crew of a 200-foot factory ship (which harvests and processes fish at sea) in the Bering Sea for six hours while they searched the vessel like Gestapo, looking for safety or fisheries violations," says Joe Easley, head of the Oregon Trawl Commission, a seafood promotion and lobbying group.
But its antecedents date to 1790, when the Coast Guard's predecessor - the Revenue Cutter Service - was granted equally broad authority to board vessels at sea.
Scientists warn that the effects of trash at sea are long-lasting and far-reaching.
We also had the opportunity to see a few burial at sea ceremonies, an underway replenishment, and helicopter ops."
The H-46D continued to demonstrate its versatility, flying every mission from VERTREP and cargo moves at sea, to enemy prisoner-of-war operations and medevacs in Iraq and Kuwait, to special warfare extractions in Liberia.
Sarah, from Midlothian, VA, had never set foot on a ship's deck before taking part in a learning adventure called Science at SEA, sponsored by the nonprofit Sea sponsored by the nonprofit Sea Education Association.
We are their primary source for passengers, mail and priority stores while they are at sea. We also fly special missions with the SEALs [sea-air-land team], providing them with a platform from which to conduct insertion and extraction techniques usually via paradrops and fast-rope operations.
The twin-rotor CH-46 Sea Knight (top right) ferries supplies and ordnance between ships at sea and transports assault troops.
But while attention focuses on the damaged area, a ripple reshaping the crust creeps away, eventually likely to trigger another earthquake -- this one at sea.
And an accident at sea involving such a ship, the agency estimates, could not occur more than once every 1,200 years.