sink or swim

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Possibly from the practice of throwing a suspected witch into water.


sink or swim

  1. To fail or succeed, no matter what.
    • 1872, Louisa May Alcott, Shawl-Straps, ch. 1:
      "No matter, we are going, live or die, sink or swim; and I shall expect to meet you, all booted and spurred and fit for the fight, April first," said the unwavering Amanda.
    • 1920, Edgar Wallace, Jack O' Judgment, ch. 35:
      "Now, come, Pinto, we're all in this, sink or swim."

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used to indicate that, although an endeavor may fail or succeed, it will still be attempted with determination.