Share this entry

Share this page

drown

Syllabification: drown
Pronunciation: /droun
 
/

Definition of drown in English:

verb

[no object]
1Die through submersion in and inhalation of water: she drowned in the pond (be drowned) two fishermen were drowned when their motorboat capsized
More example sentences
  • Police and firefighters saved a motorist from drowning after his car left the road and plunged into a water-filled ditch yesterday.
  • Yeah, when we did the stuff in the water, I almost drowned.
  • It is said that one night after a bout of heavy drinking, Li Bai plunged into a pool to catch the moon reflected in the water and drowned.
Synonyms
suffocate in water, inhale water;
go to a watery grave
1.1 [with object] Deliberately kill (a person or animal) by submerging in water: he killed his wife then drowned himself in a fit of despair
More example sentences
  • Asked to carry the scorpion across the river the rat agrees reluctantly, his insurance being the promise that his passenger is unlikely to sting as that will kill the rat and drown him.
  • They were calling for the killing to start immediately, by drowning the sheep if necessary.
  • He also shot the family dog and drowned her puppies.
1.2 [with object] Submerge or flood (an area): when the ice melted, the valleys were drowned
More example sentences
  • During the nineteenth century alone, floods drowned low areas in 1861, 1876, and 1894.
  • First, it is an ecological area and the member needs to decide whether he thinks drowning ecological areas is a plausible idea.
  • In 1979 he inspired the farmers of Uttara Kannada to oppose a dam that would have drowned their holdings and taken much forest with it.
Synonyms
1.3 [with object] (Of a sound) make (another sound) inaudible by being much louder: his voice was drowned out by the approaching engine noise
More example sentences
  • But our laughter is drowned out by the sound of cutlery hitting the table.
  • The laughter from the barracks was soon drowned out by the sound of Jasmine's angry footsteps on the ground as she entered the garden.
  • I could hear lots of popping and crackling sounds but it was quite relaxing, as other sounds were drowned out and I just had to lie there.
Synonyms
make inaudible, overpower, overwhelm, override;
muffle, deaden, stifle, extinguish
1.4 [no object] (be drowning in) Be overwhelmed by a large amount of something: both business and household sectors are drowning in debt art dealers are still drowning in a sea of paperwork
More example sentences
  • He was completely drowned in the picture, his deep concentration becoming almost meditation.
  • He had nearly drowned in the sudden wave of sheer bliss and contentment that overwhelmed him.
  • He felt the waves of despair and overwhelming anguish that radiated until her fury drowned in the sadness.
1.5 [with object] (drown something in) Cover or immerse food in: good pizza is not eight inches thick and drowned in tomato sauce
More example sentences
  • It is not eight inches thick and drowned in tomato sauce sweet enough to rot your teeth, either.

Origin

Middle English (originally northern): related to Old Norse drukkna 'to be drowned', also to drink.

More
  • Although it makes its first appearance in the Middle Ages, drown probably existed in Old English. It was originally a northern English form, and is related to the old Scandinavian word drukkna ‘to be drowned’, which comes from the same root as drink, in which people sometimes drown their sorrows. The idea that a drowning man will clutch at a straw has been expressed since the 16th century. Before the 20th century the proverb involved ‘catching’ at straws: clutch adds a vivid sense of desperation. ‘ Not waving but drowning’ is the title of a 1957 poem by the English poet and novelist Stevie Smith ( 1902–71): ‘I was much too far out all my life / And not waving but drowning.’ Smith also popularized the phrase ‘A good time was had by all’, which was the title of a collection of poems in 1937.

Phrases

drown one's sorrows

1
Forget one’s problems by getting drunk.
Example sentences
  • Everyone was trying to drown their sorrows in whisky, vodka, or tequila, but everybody remained sober no matter how much they drank.
  • She had to get back to her room, she had to forget the past, she had to drown her sorrows in alcohol.
  • A lot of people are drowning their sorrows in alcohol.

like a drowned rat

2
Extremely wet and bedraggled: she arrived at the church looking like a drowned rat
More example sentences
  • None other than Taylor is standing in the hall, drenched and looking like a drowned rat.
  • I headed home sitting on the underground train like a drowned rat.
  • Well, your son came to my rescue when I appeared on his doorstep looking like a drowned rat.

Definition of drown in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day tenebrous
Pronunciation: ˈtɛnɪbrəs
adjective
dark; shadowy or obscure