go belly up
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go belly up
1. To break or malfunction; to die, fall apart, or cease to work. ("Belly up" is sometimes hyphenated.) Sorry, Mark, I'd love to give you a lift to the airport, but my car has gone belly up on me again. The disk drive in my laptop went belly-up after the one too many drops on the ground.
2. By extension, to have a poor, undesired, or ruinous outcome; to fail completely or not come together at all. It looks like our co-op might be going belly-up if we aren't granted a license for our communal work premises. The merger deal between the two companies went belly-up when it came to light that one of the CEOs had been dodging tax obligations for several years.
Fail, go bankrupt, as in This company's about to go belly-up. This expression alludes to the posture of a dead fish in the water. [Slang; early 1900s] Also see go broke.
COMMON If a company goes belly-up, it fails and does not have enough money to pay its debts. Factories and farms went belly-up because of the debt crisis. Note: This expression may refer to dead fish floating upside down near the surface of the water.
go belly upgo bankrupt. informal
The implied comparison is with a dead fish or other animal floating upside down in the water.
1998 Times: Weekend The single currency could well go belly-up within two or three years.
go belly ˈupif a business or a project goes belly up, it fails: Everything started off well, but the business went belly up when one of the partners resigned.
This refers to a dead animal lying on its back or side with its belly (= stomach) facing upwards.
go belly upverb
See turn belly up
Die; also, go bankrupt or otherwise fail. This slangy Americanism, which dates from the second half of the 1800s, initially referred to dead fish, which float in precisely that fashion. The transfer to humans as well as to inanimate objects, such as a business, took place in the early 1900s. It continues to be used in both senses, as in, “If those instruments fail, the astronauts will go belly-up” (that is, die), or as John Dos Passos put it in Chronicle (1920), “Labor’s belly up completely—The only hope is the I.W.W. [union].”