Definition of out of one's depth in US English:

out of one's depth


  • 1In water too deep to stand in.

    • ‘Police are investigating whether he fell from a rope swing over the stream and banged his head and drowned or if he slipped into a deep pool and got out of his depth.’
    • ‘During the operation on Sunday, locals waded into sea and used ropes to haul the stranded whales back out of their depth, while others poured buckets of waters over the distressed mammals.’
    • ‘While a child, she nearly drowned in the Firth when she swam out of her depth and, exhausted, let the waters close over her.’
    • ‘Fear of water, particularly if a person suddenly gets out of their depth, prevents a lot of people going into a swimming pool or enjoying beach holidays.’
    1. 1.1 Beyond one's knowledge or ability to cope.
      ‘the governor is out of his depth, politically adrift’
      • ‘However, if you find as a referee that you are out of your depth, then it makes no sense to be stubborn and referee a match that might end up a disaster.’
      • ‘Inexperienced nurses are often out of their depth when caring for a patient who has been transferred from intensive care.’
      • ‘Indeed, he is often out of control, out of his depth and rarely in charge of his situation.’
      • ‘Needless to say, none are truly ready for the repercussions of their actions and quickly find themselves out of their depth and facing a situation of escalating violence.’
      • ‘Even though my plays are often about ideas, the characters don't say particularly intelligent things - they're people thinking out of their depth and grappling with concepts beyond their reach.’