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10 water idioms for difficult situations

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In English there are a number of idioms using the word water. As I hope you know, water's very important: we use it for drinking, washing and splashing about in. Most importantly, it's used to make the ice which I put in my favourite drink - whiskey. On the other hand, water's  also dangerous: for example, we're careful to watch young children when they play near rivers or the sea and, of course, giant  killer-sharks, like Jaws, live in water! Water idioms often highlight the dangerous or difficult side of our watery friend. Here are 10 water idioms which can help you describe difficult situations:

To be in deep water

To be in a difficult situation which is hard to deal with:

"I'll be in deep water unless I pass that exam. Without a pass, I won't be able to get into university."

To be in hot water

very similar to deep water (above), but with an emphasis on being punished for your actions:

"I'm going to be in hot water with my boss when he finds out that I lost our client's account."

To be out depth

To be in a situation that is too difficult for you to deal with:

"I didn't understand anything they were talking about at the meeting; I was totally out of my depth."

To be like a fish out of water

To feel awkward / uncomfortable because you are in an situation which you have not experienced before:

"I grew up in the countryside so when I moved to the city I felt like a fish out of water."

To pour cold water on something

To be critical of a plan that others thought was exciting or great:

"I really don't want to pour cold water on your plan, but I really don't think it will work."

To blow something out of the water

To defeat someone or something that you are competing with, or to achieve much more than they do:

"Microsoft are confident that their new software will blow all other companys' software out of the water."

Water under the bridge

Something is water under the bridge when it belongs in the past isn't important or troubling any more:

"I fought with my brother once over a woman we both liked, but it's all water under the bridge now."

Does not hold water

When something does not hold water it seems that it an idea, plan or statement is wrong or false:

"The reason she gave for being late for class didn't hold water; I'm sure she was lying."

To be dead in the water

When something is dead in the water it has stopped making any progress, it has failed and has no hope for the future:

"Since our boss left, this company has been dead in the water."

To come hell or high water

This expression means "no matter what happens":

"I don't want to work late again today. Come hell or high water, I'm leaving at 5pm."

Now see if you can complete the sentences with the correct idioms:

High Intermediate Reading 'The 380kg Teenager'

  • I was really out of my ___ in that Spanish test. It was too hard.

  • It happened many years ago. I'm not angry anymore, It's all water under the ___.

  • The police thought her alibi didn't hold ___.

  • He's always trying to ___ cold water on my ideas.