circle the drain (third-person singular simple present circles the drain, present participle circling the drain, simple past and past participle circled the drain)
- (idiomatic) To be in rapid decline or a state of downfall, especially as leading to inevitable utter failure or destruction.
- 1989 Jan. 29, Brian D. Johnston, "L.A.'s Crippled Emergency Care:," Los Angeles Times (retrieved 17 Oct 2010):
- Our emergency medical services are, nonetheless, circling the drain.
- 2008 Oct. 10, Belinda Luscombe, "Just What the Economy Needs: A $5,000 Toilet," Time:
- Presciently, the high-end Japanese bathroom-fixtures manufacturer Toto chose a time when the economy is circling the drain to launch its newest product—a $5,000 commode with a super-efficient flush.
2010, Douglas Coupland, Generation A, ISBN 9780307357731, page 234:
- Needless to say, the guy on the phone would be watching his life circle the drain, imagining the horrific press and the life-destroying damage this false accusation would cause.