circle the drain

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circle the drain (third-person singular simple present circles the drain, present participle circling the drain, simple past and past participle circled the drain)

  1. (idiomatic) To be in rapid decline or a state of downfall, especially as leading to inevitable utter failure or destruction.
    • 1989 January 29, Brian D. Johnston, “L.A.'s Crippled Emergency Care:”, in Los Angeles Times, retrieved 17 October 2010:
      Our emergency medical services are, nonetheless, circling the drain.
    • 2008 October 10, Belinda Luscombe, “Just What the Economy Needs: A $5,000 Toilet”, in 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[1], →ISBN, 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.

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