desert a sinking ship

desert a sinking ship

To leave a situation in which failure is imminent. This phrase alludes to rats, the first ones said to flee a sinking ship. The CEO's sudden resignation seemed strange at the time, but now we know that he was just deserting a sinking ship, as the company has become plagued by scandal.
See also: desert, ship, sink
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

desert a sinking ship

 and leave a sinking ship
Fig. to leave a place, a person, or a situation when things become difficult or unpleasant. (Rats are said to be the first to leave a ship that is sinking.) I hate to be the one to desert a sinking ship, but I can't work for a company that continues to lose money. There goes Tom. Wouldn't you know he'd leave a sinking ship rather than stay around and try to help?
See also: desert, ship, sink
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

desert a sinking ship

Abandon a failing enterprise before it is too late. For example, After seeing the company's financial statement, he knew it was time to desert a sinking ship . This metaphoric expression alludes to rats, which leave a vessel when it founders in a storm or runs aground so as to escape drowning. It was transferred to human behavior by about 1600.
See also: desert, ship, sink
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.

(like rats) deserting/leaving a sinking ˈship

(humorous, disapproving) used to talk about people who leave an organization, a company, etc. that is having difficulties, without caring about the people who are left: One by one, employees began looking for other jobs, like rats deserting a sinking ship.I might have known he’d be the first rat to desert this sinking ship!
See also: desert, leave, ship, sink
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Let's not forget the general election was just twelve months ago and these three MPs look as if they want to desert a sinking ship. It's hard to have much confidence in Labour at this present time.
"I don't want to desert a sinking ship,'' Hooper said.
NEIL WARNOCK'S decision to desert a sinking ship was Sheffield United's best result last season, but with Bryan Robson now at the helm, expect their Premiership absence to be brief.