Definition of drown in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Die through submersion in and inhalation of water.

    ‘two fishermen were drowned when their motorboat capsized’
    ‘she drowned in the pond’
    • ‘A year later a diver was found dead in the water - drowned, despite the fact his equipment was perfect and he was very experienced.’
    • ‘Many people stood around the canal and watched the thief drown in water.’
    • ‘He drowns in the muddy water in the road in front of their house.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Perhaps breathing in the water and drowning quicker would be the better choice, for she would be put out of her misery.’
    • ‘A pathologist's report concluded that the man was alive when he went into the water, and later drowned.’
    • ‘Eighteen-year-old Aimee Donald thought she would drown as water rose to six inches from the ceiling, but somehow she managed to battle her way out.’
    • ‘She almost gasped, but remembered, if she did, she would take in water and possibly drown.’
    • ‘It is not known if he was taken ill in the water or if he drowned.’
    • ‘If he gets any more hits to the head, he'll start trying to walk on water and probably drown in a seal tank at the zoo.’
    • ‘Police and firefighters saved a motorist from drowning after his car left the road and plunged into a water-filled ditch yesterday.’
    • ‘With so much information available, this site could surely be compared to deep waters you could drown in.’
    • ‘Parents should not feel that their child is safe in water or safe from drowning after participation in such programs.’
    • ‘Buried under tons of rock, drowning in water, losing air, all they had left was the will to survive.’
    • ‘I'm not that fast, but hey, at least I won't drown when dumped in water.’
    • ‘Yeah, when we did the stuff in the water, I almost drowned.’
    • ‘Last November, 400 villagers risked drowning as the waters rose around them.’
    • ‘Yet if he were to die tomorrow in a jeep accident, drowning in ditch water as Mike did, it would be fundamentally indecent and mean-spirited of me to sketch such a portrait.’
    • ‘He had been beaten and left to drown in the shallow water.’
    • ‘He took a deep breath, then let it out slowly, forcing all thoughts of boats, water, and drowning to leave his mind.’
    suffocate in water, inhale water
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Deliberately kill (a person or animal) by submerging in water.
      ‘they committed suicide by jumping into the sea and drowning themselves’
      • ‘He had been jailed for life at York 10 years before, for drowning his wife in the bath at their home in Beverley.’
      • ‘The villains all had names like Barry the Baptist, so called because he drowns his victims, and Hatchet Harry.’
      • ‘As I told Barry Jones, my father was a vile clergyman who drowned puppies and had relations with Mum.’
      • ‘It's mothers drowning their kids and husbands shooting their wives.’
      • ‘They all looked really sad, like they had to go home and drown some puppies in the bathtub.’
      • ‘The only strong caveat involves a startling scene early in the film in which Charlie is forced by his father to drown a helpless dog.’
      • ‘It was on the stony stretch of waterway overlooking Wexford town that she drowned their daughters and then killed herself.’
      • ‘She felt bad about giving them something they didn't want, but she wasn't just going to let them drown the kitten.’
      • ‘If I had been the passerby I'd have been tempted to drown the kids!’
      • ‘Presented with what was effectively a vase, big enough to drown a small cat, it struck me this apparent oversight was in fact a carefully orchestrated bar-tending conspiracy.’
      • ‘And leaving a fish to die in an empty bucket was like drowning a kitten in a bucket of water.’
      • ‘I should have killed him for trying to drown her.’
      • ‘I mean, it's not like a guy who wanted to murder and drown his wife on record can be said to take it easy on ex-partners.’
      • ‘Clyde, hysterical with rage, almost drowns him.’
      • ‘As for the shooting war, some military commentators have compared its ease to drowning puppies.’
      • ‘He also shot the family dog and drowned her puppies.’
      • ‘It was the real thing, served in a one-size bucket you could have drowned kittens in.’
      • ‘How could somebody both scare your horse and try to drown you?’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2with object Submerge or flood (an area)
      ‘when the ice melted the valleys were drowned’
      • ‘Around the globe this would drown dozens of cities, including London, and an area of low-lying land greater than the US.’
      • ‘In his most remarkable feat, he constructs a low-lying town in a dry lakebed only to drown it for a spectacular inundation.’
      • ‘During the nineteenth century alone, floods drowned low areas in 1861, 1876, and 1894.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘First, it is an ecological area and the member needs to decide whether he thinks drowning ecological areas is a plausible idea.’
      • ‘I passed plunging gorges, streams in spate, riverbanks ripped open, fields flooded, a brown soup drowning the track.’
      • ‘This beautiful expanse of water was once the valley of the Parramatta river, drowned by rising sea levels following the big thaw at the end of the last ice age.’
      • ‘A continuing gradual dehydration of the Earth's mantle may by then have begun to drown the ridges and to flood the surface of the planet.’
      • ‘Yosemite was saved from grazing, but its Hetch Hetchy Valley was drowned.’
      • ‘Valleys to the north of the drainage divide are drowned and flooded by the sea, whereas to the south the valleys are still alluvial.’
      • ‘There are drowned Bronze Age field systems in the Scilly Isles.’
      flood, submerge, immerse, inundate, deluge, swamp, engulf, drench, soak, cover, saturate
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    3. 1.3with object (of a sound) make (another sound) inaudible by being much louder.
      ‘his voice was drowned out by the approaching engine noise’
      • ‘Whatever opinion I may have is going to be drowned out by the sound of a wooden spoon being rapped sharply on the side of a mixing bowl.’
      • ‘The rest of his query was drowned out by the sound of hissing air and falling metal as the ship lurched, and at the same time, the door began to open.’
      • ‘But our laughter is drowned out by the sound of cutlery hitting the table.’
      • ‘I didn't really understand what he was going on about as I drowned it out while covering Cole's ears at the same time.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His reply was drowned out by the laughter from his men.’
      • ‘The stairs creaked and groaned and rattled in protest, and the hammering of Chris' feet on the iron stairs was drowned out by the sounds of imminent destruction.’
      • ‘The rest of the interview was reportedly drowned out by the sound of heads coming into repeated contact with brick walls.’
      • ‘This should be a moment of hope for humanity; but any cheering will be drowned out by the sounds of drilling, the crashing of distant trees, and a low, smug Texan snigger.’
      • ‘Her reply was drowned out by the sound of the warehouse exploding behind them.’
      • ‘I'm delighted to be able to tell you that it was soon drowned out by the sound of The Beatles' Eight Days A Week.’
      • ‘I tried again, but my voice was drowned out by the sound of he bell ringing and students pouring into the hall.’
      • ‘Lightning flashed day and night through the ash-laden clouds; the thunder was drowned out by the rumble of volcanic explosions.’
      • ‘The noise was only drowned out by clapping from the rest of the audience when the Queen and Prince Philip emerged from their car.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The sound was drowned out by the painful screeching of the man.’
      • ‘Sam tried to ask, but his voice was drowned out by the sound of the mechanics at work.’
      • ‘But I fear they may be drowned out by the sound of gunfire.’
      • ‘His comments were drowned out by the laughter and screams of the marchers.’
      • ‘But these voices have been drowned out by the din from the hawks.’
      make inaudible, drown out, be louder than, overpower, overwhelm, overcome, override, engulf, swallow up, devour, bury
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    4. 1.4be drowning inno object 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’
      • ‘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.’
    5. 1.5drown something inwith object Cover or immerse food in.
      ‘good pizza is not eight inches thick and drowned in tomato sauce’
      • ‘It is not eight inches thick and drowned in tomato sauce sweet enough to rot your teeth, either.’


  • drown one's sorrows

    • Forget one's problems by getting drunk.

      • ‘Police are today warning landlords to be on the lookout for under-age drinkers celebrating their exam success or drowning their sorrows.’
      • ‘You shouldn't drown your sorrows in French wines at the prospect of feeling European.’
      • ‘She had to get back to her room, she had to forget the past, she had to drown her sorrows in alcohol.’
      • ‘They're not drowning their sorrows, they're having fun.’
      • ‘Whereas once we were drowning our sorrows in Kilburn, now we're celebrating our shiny new jobs at Intel.’
      • ‘Mortgage borrowers will be celebrating a cut in home loan bills from next month, but savers may be drowning their sorrows.’
      • ‘Everyone was trying to drown their sorrows in whisky, vodka, or tequila, but everybody remained sober no matter how much they drank.’
      • ‘A lot of people are drowning their sorrows in alcohol.’
      • ‘He's been drowning his sorrows since his wedding day, when the bride… whom he had never seen… never showed up.’
      • ‘For the losers, who had spent between £30 million and £45 million each on their bids, there was nothing to do but drown their sorrows.’
  • like a drowned rat

    • Extremely wet and bedraggled.

      ‘she arrived at the church looking like a drowned rat’
      • ‘I headed home sitting on the underground train like a drowned rat.’
      • ‘She came up, looking like a drowned rat, gasping.’
      • ‘Ash looked at him and said: ‘You look like a drowned rat.’’
      • ‘None other than Taylor is standing in the hall, drenched and looking like a drowned rat.’
      • ‘He looked like a drowned rat, but he looked so beautiful to me.’
      • ‘I got out of the water as quickly as I could, like a drowned rat and very cold.’
      • ‘Now I'm going to arrive for my first day of school looking like a drowned rat.’
      • ‘Well, your son came to my rescue when I appeared on his doorstep looking like a drowned rat.’
      • ‘There was no wash basin in the room, no change of clothes and little I could have done with my shaggy hair even if I had the aid of a mirror, so I was forced to descend the stairs looking as much like a drowned rat as I had the day before.’
      • ‘She'd insisted on it when it started raining at dinner, saying she couldn't possibly make it back to her cottage without ending up like a drowned rat.’
      drenched, soaked, soaked to the skin, like a drowned rat, wet through, soaked through, sodden, soggy, waterlogged, saturated, sopping, sopping wet, dripping, dripping wet, wringing, wringing wet, streaming
      View synonyms


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