be on the rocks

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be on the rocks

1. Literally, to have become stuck on rocks in the water, as of a ship. Our ship is on the rocks now, after crashing during that violent storm.
2. To be in jeopardy and likely to end or fail. Typically used in reference to romantic relationships. Did you hear that Bill and Maria are on the rocks? Of course their marriage is on the rocks, they fight all the time!
3. To suffer financial hardship, often suddenly. I was on the rocks pretty soon after I lost my job. You need to make sound financial decisions to keep your company from being on the rocks.
4. To contain ice, as of an alcoholic beverage. That drink's on the rocks, so it's not the one I ordered.
See also: on, rock
References in classic literature ?
Even now we were on the rock he said nothing, nor so much as relaxed the frowning look upon his face; but clapped flat down, and keeping only one eye above the edge of our place of shelter scouted all round the compass.