go belly-up

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. It looks like our co-op might be going belly-up if we aren't granted a license for our communal work premises.
2. By extension, to have a poor, undesired, or ruinous outcome; to fail completely or not come together at all. We were all set to have our picnic on Saturday, but the weather went belly up and we had to cancel at the last minute. 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.
See also: belly, go, up

go belly-up

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.
See also: go

go belly-up

INFORMAL
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.
See also: go

go 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].”
See also: go
References in periodicals archive ?
Luckily the world's largest rosary collection (housed in Stevenson, Washington) can never go belly-up.
"These are kids that have limited experience and not much else on their resumes." They also had no idea that their company, which a few months before had treated them to a lavish launch party on Ellis Island--to the tune of $275,000--would quickly go belly-up.