tread water


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tread water

1. To move one's feet and hands in a motion that will allow one to keep one's head above the surface of the water. If you fall overboard, just tread water until we are able to circle back around and pick you up. He's terrified to go on a boat because he can't even tread water.
2. By extension, to maintain one's current status without making any significant progress; to be barely able to maintain one's current position or status. The market for paperback books has shrunk so much in recent years that our company has really just been treading water recently. With all the expenses we have to deal with in the new house, it feels like we're just treading water between paychecks.
See also: tread, water

tread water

Expend effort that maintains one's status but does not make much progress toward a goal, as in He was just treading water from paycheck to paycheck. This idiom alludes to the term's literal meaning, that is, "keep one's head above water by remaining upright and pumping the legs."
See also: tread, water

tread water

COMMON If you tread water, you fail to make progress, but instead just continue to do the same things. I feel as if I've actually taken a step forward, and that I'm not just treading water. Without any hope of promotion, I feel I'm just treading water. Note: When swimmers tread water, they move their arms and legs in order to keep their head above the water without actually making progress in any direction.
See also: tread, water

tread water

1 maintain an upright position in the water by moving the feet with a walking movement and the hands with a downward circular motion. 2 fail to advance or make progress.
2 1996 Financial Post The NAPM index…has been treading water since the spring, and that is making a lot of people nervous.
See also: tread, water

ˌtread ˈwater


1 keep yourself upright in deep water by moving your arms and legs
2 make no progress while you are waiting for something to happen: For the past year I’ve been treading water, in a boring job with no hope of promotion.
See also: tread, water

tread water

1. To keep the head above water while in an upright position by pumping the legs.
2. To expend effort but make little or no progress to achievement of a goal or an end.
See also: tread, water
References in periodicals archive ?
She said last night: "The girls were distraught so when I reached them I had to tread water and calm them down.
The industry continued to tread water in the first quarter," said Walden C.
Screenwriters Adam Kreutner and David Mitchell sustain the tension for most of the opening hour but, like their ill-fated protagonists, they're forced to tread water before the overwrought conclusion.
Still, at 33-30, the Angels tread water relatively well given the offensive flux.
Its 28 per cent jump in profits and news that its drug for hyperactive kids should be on the US market soon failed to register with traders just trying to tread water as the stock market plummeted.
until everyone around you is going down for the third time while you tread water.
This is a month that we can't just tread water, and go 6-6.
He's shattered and probably still doesn't know how he managed to tread water for so long in those waters in his underpants - he's very lucky.
Security resources can be drained when security managers employ vulnerability assessment software that uses superfluous checks, generates inaccurate data and creates voluminous reports that force managers to tread water in a sea of data.
Certainly during this time of deficits and austerity, one would think that the city government would have the common sense and empathy for the taxpayer - many of whom have lost jobs or suffered a reduction in salary during this economic downturn - to at least tread water for a while,'' Uhler said.
The company's ability to tread water during the roughest storms is another reason several top All Star analysts are recommending ORCL to investors for when the tide is friendlier.
The priest and the rabbi are never on a rowboat, although they do tread water on numerous occasions.