sink or swim


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sink or swim

1. verb To either be successful right away or succumb to failure. The teacher expects you to have all the background material already learned, so you'll have to sink or swim the moment you start the course.
2. noun A situation in which one must either be successful right away or succumb to failure. In such a competitive business, it's always sink or swim for new companies looking to enter the market.
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sink or swim

Fig. to fail or succeed. (Alludes to the choices available to someone who has fallen into the water.) After I've studied and learned all I can, I have to take the test and sink or swim. It's too late to help John now. It's sink or swim for him.
See also: sink, swim

sink or swim

Succumb or succeed, no matter what, as in Now that we've bought the farm, we'll have to make a go of it, sink or swim. This expression alludes to the former barbaric practice of throwing a suspected witch into deep water, often weighted down. In case of sinking, the victim died; in case of swimming, the victim was considered in league with the devil and therefore was executed. A related idiom, float or sink, was used by Chaucer in the late 1300s; Shakespeare had the current form in 1 Henry IV (1:3): "Or sink or swim."
See also: sink, swim

sink or swim

If someone has to sink or swim, they have to try to succeed on their own, and whether they succeed or fail depends completely on their own efforts and abilities. After three years of teaching and support at music college, musicians are left to sink or swim in the profession. Note: You can use sink-or-swim before a noun. Tomorrow afternoon, it's sink-or-swim time, her first game.
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sink or swim

fail or succeed entirely by your own efforts.
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ˌsink or ˈswim

(saying) be in a situation where you will either succeed without help from other people, or fail completely: The government refused to give the company any help, and just left it to sink or swim.
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sink or swim

Informal
To fail or succeed without alternative.
See also: sink, swim

sink or swim

Succumb or survive; by extension, no matter what. This term alludes to the ancient practice of throwing a convicted witch (sometimes weighted down) into deep water. In case of sinking, the person drowned; in case of swimming, the person was considered in league with the devil and therefore was executed. Hence the outcome was the same. The term, which began life as float or sink, was already used by Chaucer in the fourteenth century. Shakespeare’s Hotspur said, “Or sink or swim” (Henry IV, Part 1, 1.3), and across the Atlantic, John Adams said, “Swim or sink, live or die, survive or perish with my country was my unalterable determination” (in a conversation with Jonathan Sewall, 1774).
See also: sink, swim
References in periodicals archive ?
"You don't need to be a reality show fan to enjoy Sink or Swim, which is a cross between a cozy mystery and a romantic suspense novel," said Juba, a former reporter and the recipient of more than a dozen journalism awards.
? Sink or Swim is at the Playhouse Studio from February 18-23.
"Sink or Swim" entrants will craft 5-15 page business plans to make millions by applying their entrepreneurial creativity to best use a seastead's competitive advantages.
Sink or Swim could also be the ethos of the theatre company itself of course, after it lost its vital Arts Council funding almost two years ago now.
Your choice is becoming clearer by the day: The sink or swim society of David Cameron or One Nation Britain with Labour.
He'll either sink or swim as players find you out very quickly."
But Scotland suffered a pre-match blow when wing Simon Webster pulled out with a hamstring problem, and Henderson admitted: "It's a case of sink or swim for us.
IRISH society is telling its young people they must sink or swim, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin warned.