keep (one's) head above water

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keep (one's) head above water

1. Literally, to hold one's head out of the water as to avoid drowning. This lifejacket will help Sally to keep her head above water in the pool.
2. To (barely) avoid being consumed by a stressful or unpleasant situation (often related to work or finance). If credit cards are the only thing keeping your head above water, then your situation is more dire than I thought.
See also: above, head, keep, water

keep one's head above water

 
1. Lit. to keep from drowning when swimming or floating. (See also get one's head above water.) I was so tired I could hardly keep my head above water.
2. . Fig. to manage to survive, especially financially. We have so little money that we can hardly keep our heads above water. It's hard to keep your head above water on this much money.
3. Fig. to keep up with one's work. It's all I can do to keep my head above water with the work I have. I can't take on any more. We have so many orders that we can hardly keep our heads above water.
See also: above, head, keep, water

head above water, keep one's

Stay out of trouble, especially financial difficulties; also, keep up with work or other demands. For example, With new bills coming in every day they're barely keeping their heads above water, or The work's piling up, but I manage to keep my head above water. This expression alludes to keeping oneself from drowning. [Early 1700s] Also see in deep.
See also: above, head, keep

keep your head above water

COMMON If you keep your head above water, you have just enough money to live on or to continue with a business. Thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water. I need two jobs just to keep my head above water.
See also: above, head, keep, water

keep your head above water

avoid succumbing to difficulties, especially falling into debt.
See also: above, head, keep, water

keep your ˈhead above water

succeed in staying out of debt; manage to deal with tasks, responsibilities, etc: The company had great difficulty keeping its head above water during the economic crisis.I don’t know how she manages to keep her head above water. She has so much to do.
See also: above, head, keep, water
References in periodicals archive ?
In effect, gone without to keep our heads above water, never or tried not to buy anything we could not afford.
I'm working two jobs to keep our heads above water.
We are going to have a real battle to try to keep our heads above water.
What with credit and debit cards, easy loans and intricate pensions and savings plans, most of us struggle to keep our heads above water.
We want to keep our heads above water and get clear of the pack," he told the club's website.
What we do not hear in all these nightmare predictions is news of a comprehensive strategy to keep our heads above water.
Team member Ken Scouler said: "We have to raise between pounds 50,000 and pounds 55,000 every year to keep our heads above water.
The amount of paper we were producing was unbelievable, and with it came missed deadlines and high costs because of the large number of staff we needed just to keep our heads above water," says Janet Russell, Clearing Services Director for Barclays Bank.
This is because we really need the money to keep our heads above water.
The only way we keep our heads above water is by our own fundraising and a few grants.