circling the drain

Also found in: Medical, Acronyms.
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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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
When the first season ended, Michael Caffee (Jason Isaacs), the gangster, was circling the drain after a savage beating.
What Long masterfully achieves is the precise interior focus of a man whose life is circling the drain, and he does this without either high drama or sentimentality.
Last year CSPI bragged that 20,000 reports of "gastrointestinal misery"--"more than all other food additive complaints in history combined"--had been forwarded to the FDA, mostly through CSPI "Olestra may be circling the drain," Michael Jacobson crowed, but it is still "causing too much pain, embarrassment and inconvenience.
As we watch Caden's life disintegrate and literally get consumed by his play, there doesn't seem to be any point except to watch this sad man circling the drain without anything to show for his sorry existence.
circling the drain: What a struggling company does just before it goes down the tubes: "Jackson knew the company was circling the drain when he jumped ship.
It's not because of how they won in that particular game, but every time it becomes common belief that they're circling the drain, they play a game like Sunday's.
A stress puppy is a grumbling worker, while circling the drain refers to a project which is going nowhere.
Night Shyamalan - whose career has been circling the drain for some time now - it's a step back from the abyss.
If the Chargers heads were in Indianapolis, their playoff hopes are now elsewhere, too - circling the drain.
Worst of all, the CTA adopts hard-core, anti-education positions that, if the CTA had won, would have dramatically increased the speed at which our schools are circling the drain.
It's an industry cliche to say that trends are cyclical, but in this case, the sitcom really does seem to be circling the drain.