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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
For the uninitiated, "circling the drain" means to take a turn for the worse, a "preemie" is a premature infant and "road rash" is abrasions from a fall onto concrete.
Good journalism costs money, and it's no secret that newspapers especially have been circling the drain for years.
The 33-year-old is fully committed to the Dons but is dismayed to see his first love circling the drain.
The Bruins can't do anything about the upcoming NHL season slowly circling the drain, but they can look to the future, which they did yesterday by signing pesky forward Brad Marchand to a four-year, $18 million contract extension that will keep him in Boston through the 2016-17 season.
"Texas' Women's Health Program may be circling the drain. Sen.
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." GAIL CALDWELL
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."