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1. Literally, to bury something under the surface of the ground by turning the soil up over it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "plow" and "under." The once lush forests of the area were eventually plowed under to make room for fields of corn and wheat. We had to plow the entire field under because the market prices for corn had fallen so low.
2. To cause someone to be extremely busy; to overwhelm someone. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "plow" and "under"; usually used in passive constructions. Kate's not coming tonight because she's plowed under with research for her thesis. The boss has plowed me under with way too many projects—I'll need some help or I'll never finish them on time!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
plow something under (something)
to turn something under the surface of soil by plowing. The farmer plowed the wheat stubble under the surface of the soil. The farmer plowed the stubble under.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Cause to vanish, overwhelm, as in The independent bookstores are being plowed under by the large chains. This term alludes to the farmer's burying vegetation by turning it into the soil with a plow. [Second half of 1900s]
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.
1. To work something into the earth by turning up soil over it: Low grain prices have forced many farmers to plow their crops under. Many wetlands were plowed under to make more farmland.
2. To overwhelm someone or something: My teachers have plowed me under with work this week. We were plowed under with dirty laundry.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
mod. alcohol or drug intoxicated. They went out and got plowed.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.