Main definitions of sink in US English:

: sink1sink2



  • 1no object Go down below the surface of something, especially of a liquid; become submerged.

    ‘he saw the coffin sink below the surface of the waves’
    • ‘It shows a car from below as it sinks toward the seabed amid a swirling shoal of silvery fish.’
    • ‘Do not dig a hole deeper than the roots or the soil and your apple will sink below ground level.’
    • ‘Weakened by her flight, and the blow to her head, she fell under the water and slowly sank down, below the surface.’
    • ‘Below him the volcano sunk into the Earth's crust, while bubbling lava spilled over it until it was entirely gone.’
    • ‘I sunk deeper below the surface of the raging river, and was losing all incentive to try and get back up.’
    • ‘Lori just sunk below the surface of the water and swam out of the cave.’
    • ‘They thought that Miranda's rugged terrain was a result of heavier rocks sinking below the lighter ice crust.’
    • ‘The rock promptly sank below the surface, submerging the hook and its bait.’
    • ‘Slowly, the rock they stood on began to sink below the rest of the ground.’
    • ‘She sank below the surface and tried to see how long she could hold her breath.’
    • ‘In such a place things are dumped over the side, and after a moment bobbing unnoticed on the surface, they sink to the bottom.’
    • ‘Exhale and empty your lungs as much as possible, and you sink below the surface.’
    • ‘In that world, Atlantis has sunk below the sea, and the island of Marmo isn't in any known records.’
    • ‘Laure's in the bathtub and she's sinking below the surface, and the water is flowing over the top.’
    • ‘It skipped several times before it sunk down below the surface.’
    • ‘That part became waterlogged, so it sunk below the surface, but didn't lose its ability to float.’
    • ‘She threw his body into the sea from which she herself was born, and as he sank below the waves, anemones opened and flowered in his wake.’
    • ‘The grains submerged immediately on contact with the surface, and sank rapidly, accumulating at the bottom.’
    • ‘Different feeds are also being tried: some are designed for feeding on or near the surface, others slowly sink toward the bottom of the cages.’
    • ‘Instead of returning to the surface, Sophie sank to the bottom of the 3ft pool.’
    become submerged, be engulfed, go down, drop, fall, descend
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    1. 1.1 (of a ship) go to the bottom of the sea or some other body of water because of damage or a collision.
      ‘the trawler sank with the loss of all six crew members’
      • ‘As the last English galley sinks below the waves, an English emissary arrives at Bangalore under a white flag of truce.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, as sure as night follows day a refugee boat has sunk with loss of life.’
      • ‘‘A sea of fire stretched from stem to stern,’ one crewman observed as the ship sank, her aft section ripped away.’
      • ‘One man died and two crewmen were seriously injured on Thursday night when their cargo ship sank near Sai Kung waters.’
      • ‘What do you grab onto when the ship is sinking and the waters are closing over your head?’
      • ‘Most involve people who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard or ended up in the water when the boat sank.’
      • ‘Officials detonated three sets of explosive charges on board, and the 2,500-ton vessel slowly sank below the surface.’
      • ‘One ship sinks, many sailors die, and Martin points out to Candide that the gruesome affair further proves his point.’
      • ‘As the three of them looked on, the ship was sinking slowly and steadily into the water.’
      • ‘The vessel has sunk at its moorings several times in recent years and needed pumping out by fire fighters.’
      • ‘The government's response was to distance itself from the tragedy, claiming repeatedly that the boat had sunk in Indonesian waters.’
      • ‘Salvors fear the ship will sink if the engine room and one of the holds is ‘lost’ during the next refloating attempt.’
      • ‘This ship sank while underway, and now rests on its starboard side.’
      • ‘Of Scharnhorst's crew of 1,968, just 36 were rescued from the icy waters as their wrecked ship sank.’
      • ‘If the seacock for the engine intake is left open, the boat sinks when the ice thaws.’
      • ‘Three weeks after the original boat sank, the second Cabin Fever ship hit rocky waters again yesterday when it was shore-bound with gear box problems.’
      • ‘We kept getting closer and closer to the water as the ship sank.’
      • ‘The ship sank, killing seven of the crew, and collapsing two pylons and 127 metres of bridge decking into water 110 feet deep.’
      • ‘We just looked at each other as the boat sank silently to the bottom of the cold, black, incredibly scary lake.’
      • ‘Ninety years ago this week, the world's most famous ocean liner sank to a frigid grave in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.’
      founder, go under, submerge, capsize
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    2. 1.2with object Cause (a ship) to go to the bottom of the sea or other body of water.
      ‘a freak wave sank their boat near the shore’
      • ‘It does seem a bit inappropriate though considering the unsinkable ship was sunk by an iceberg all those years ago.’
      • ‘Navy coastguard personnel retrieved seven crewmembers who had been working on a Sattahip fishing vessel after strong waves sank their boat.’
      • ‘That was the night Japanese submarines attacked Sydney, sinking the accommodation ferry Kuttabul and claiming the lives of 21 sailors.’
      • ‘When the British finally vacated the base in 1946, rather than giving anyone else the pleasure of sinking the ship that had proved so hard to kill, one of their destroyers was given the task.’
      • ‘Some 69 boats were sunk or destroyed when the hurricane took out concrete piers anchoring the floating docks.’
      • ‘The captain of a big ship sinks a small boat because, otherwise, both will drown at a particular juncture.’
      • ‘One Carthaginian sea captain sank his ship rather than let his charts fall into Roman hands.’
      • ‘He was sailing a ship during a violent storm that had all but sunk the vessel.’
      • ‘If they throw us a crumb, it's like pirates who have sunk your ship, murdered your family, and burned your village giving you a lifeboat to sail away on.’
      • ‘An initial examination revealed that a water pipe used to cool the engine had broken and flooded the engine room, nearly sinking the ship.’
      • ‘The ship is sunk, the whale-boats destroyed, and Ahab himself is yanked to his death by the very iron he himself forged.’
      • ‘Last December, the Japanese Coast Guard sunk an unidentified ship, claiming it was a North Korean spy ship.’
      • ‘So, Ford wants to sink the ship rather than allow the flagship of the Russian sub fleet get into enemy hands.’
      • ‘Murray dropped a cannon overboard into the canoe of Islanders who paddled out to meet the ship, sinking their vessel and allowing the ship's crew to grab the floating men.’
      • ‘Gale force winds and strong tides sank a rowing boat on the Thames in Barnes on Sunday.’
      • ‘During that time German and Italian submarines sank nearly 2,900 merchant ships, suffering 867 losses themselves.’
      • ‘The English had lost some 450 men with 1250 wounded and no ships sunk or captured.’
      • ‘Apart from sinking the accommodation ship HMAS Kuttabul, with the loss of 21 lives, the attack caused little other damage.’
      • ‘German submarines eventually sank 391 ships in the western Atlantic, 141 of which were tankers.’
      • ‘Submarines were supposed to surface and give crews time to abandon ship before sinking their vessels.’
      scupper, scuttle, send to the bottom, open the seacocks in
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    3. 1.3 Disappear and not be seen or heard of again.
      ‘the film sank virtually without trace’
      • ‘Audiences stayed away and the film sank away without a trace at the theaters.’
      • ‘With obviously limited spectator value it swiftly sank without trace before the next Olympics.’
      • ‘Even Hayek's buoyant presence fails to keep this cinematic clunker from sinking.’
      • ‘Hugh Laurie's intelligence and charm keep this strained romantic comedy from sinking completely.’
      • ‘As for movies, Blade Runner ran by them, Star Wars failed to shine, and Titanic sank without trace.’
      • ‘You want to sink into oblivion, and you can't find a way.’
      • ‘She has sunk into the background in the past two weeks - friends say that she has had enough of the stress and has decided to no longer face the public gaze.’
      • ‘How did the media magically decide that he is struggling, sinking, tanking, you know, five months before anyone gets to vote?’
      • ‘A complex land-swap deal will sink if the city reneges on existing deals.’
      • ‘The town of Catania lost all its inhabitants, and ultimately sank into complete oblivion.’
    4. 1.4with object Cause to fail.
      ‘she apparently wishes to sink the company’
      • ‘She had to beat him during a highly-charged tussle at Glasgow's Braehead Area to qualify for the opportunity to sink the opposition in Bismarck.’
      • ‘Their public revelation of the deal's contents even before the votes were cast looked very much like a bid to sink a free and open election.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, although the movie's self-importance causes the project to take on water, it fails to sink it.’
      • ‘However, despite the enthusiastic endorsement of the Welsh clubs, the SRU's rejection appears to have sunk the plan.’
      • ‘One group of Leeds fans made a joke of the Scottish weather by donning snorkels and diving masks, but it was their hopes which were sunk without trace by the final whistle.’
      • ‘The bid was finally sunk last weekend when the existing course could not stand up to torrential rain.’
      • ‘And it was Robert Anderson's report of yesterday that has sunk Jobie Dajka's Olympic hopes, it seems.’
      • ‘She sank his chances in a single speech and a memorable phrase.’
      • ‘The public lies were huge enough to have sunk their governments in cleaner times.’
      • ‘Organizational and project-management risks have sunk many a project that was technically feasible.’
      • ‘The sports minister later told the Dáil it was wrong to assume that the failure to name two Irish venues would sink the bid.’
      • ‘The mud and a mighty Bristol pack almost sunk our team as Bristol's heroes were shattered by a slithering score from… yes, Richard Hill.’
      • ‘Yet it is the criminality that has sunk a cosy deal.’
      • ‘His involvement has really sunk us.’
      • ‘Independent film review sites can sink a film in hours.’
      • ‘That one-two punch effectively sunk her acting career for good.’
      • ‘On Wednesday another Zambian, Linos Chalwe, was the toast of Manning Rangers as his goal on debut sunk Golden Arrows.’
      • ‘On Europe, the UK Independence Party has apparently sunk this strategy because it shows that only the Tories are the sensible pragmatists.’
      • ‘Opponents of the regional assembly had called for North Yorkshire to be given a veto to sink the plans if a majority of the county's residents oppose them.’
      • ‘Even if it rains the entire time, it won't totally sink your plans.’
      destroy, ruin, wreck, put an end to, be the ruin of, be the ruination of, wreak havoc on, demolish, devastate, blast, blight, smash, shatter, dash, torpedo, scotch, sabotage
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    5. 1.5with object Conceal, keep in the background, or ignore.
      ‘they agreed to sink their differences’
      • ‘It was this anomalous situation that compelled the French left to sink their differences and form a common front against the ruling Gaullists.’
      • ‘He has appealed to all doctors to sink their differences and come together in the larger interests of the doctors' community.’
      • ‘Subsequently, the two managed to sink their differences.’
      • ‘The sheikh also hoped that the leaders will try to sink their differences for the best interest of the movement.’
      • ‘In 1828 liberals and Catholics sank their differences and joined constitutional associations to force William to give ground.’
      • ‘One wonders how many of Sharp's critics today would be prepared to sink their own prejudices and defy political correctness in order to do so.’
      • ‘Where village welfare is concerned, these fishermen sink their differences and work together for the overall good of everyone.’
      ignore, overlook, disregard, forget, put aside, set aside, put to one side, bury, consign to oblivion
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  • 2no object Descend; drop.

    ‘you can relax on the veranda as the sun sinks’
    ‘Sam felt the ground sinking beneath his feet’
    • ‘In the evenings we gathered on the porch as the sun sank low and watched the animals come in.’
    • ‘These drift on the ocean currents for about two weeks before the larval forms hatch, then sink to the reefs below and begin to feed.’
    • ‘And that as a result, the land mass now actually sinks, because it's fine alluvial soil.’
    • ‘The sun had just begun to sink below the hills when they reached the roof.’
    • ‘Corporations fail to understand that the island has sunk.’
    • ‘Sometimes I do very little, to the casual eye, apart from observing the passage of the sun across the heavens, marking the point at which it enters my view and that at which it sinks below the hills.’
    • ‘Finally, the top of the sun sank beneath the waves, and I turned in awe to Nick, beside me.’
    • ‘As it started to sink below the horizon, it cast a fiery, golden glow over all the land.’
    • ‘It is that time of year when the sun sinks lower in the sky and thoughts of the culturally cognizant turn once again to the 17th Annual Vancouver Fringe Festival.’
    • ‘As a result of subsidence and rising sea levels worldwide Venice has sunk by 23 cm since 1900.’
    • ‘We got there right at dusk, scrambling breathlessly to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun and catching a few moments of its namesake sinking below the western horizon.’
    • ‘The net effect of warm air rising and cold air sinking is to decrease the ‘centre of gravity’ of the system because the cold air is more dense than the warm air.’
    • ‘For the rest of the month Mercury sinks back down to the horizon while fading rapidly, and is out of sight well before the end of April.’
    • ‘We were nearing one of Italy's most horrid swamps, and the ground beneath us sank freely underneath our feet.’
    • ‘The sky was exploding as the blood red sun sank below the horizon.’
    • ‘Slowly, the moon travelled across the sky, rising higher and dipping lower, until it began to sink below the treetops in the West, and kiss the tip of the horizon.’
    • ‘The sun was just getting ready to sink below the waves and it cast a warm light on the shiny surface of the water.’
    • ‘To create usable land, water had to be pumped out of the area, which in turn caused the ground to sink even lower.’
    • ‘As the sun sank below the horizon, the festivities ended with concerts, mostly of the dangdut variety.’
    • ‘As the afternoon sun sank lower, the long beams slanting across the coffee shop floor made me want to curl up and sleep like a lazy cat.’
    descend, drop, go down, go downwards, come down, come downwards, go lower
    set, go down, go downwards, dip beneath the horizon, descend
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    1. 2.1 (of a person) lower oneself or drop gently.
      ‘she sank back onto her pillow’
      • ‘Adam's smile faded and he sank back into the bed, looking small and tired, sensing their thoughts.’
      • ‘I sank into the pool completely, shook my messy blonde hair with my hands, and styled it back several times so that it would look more organized.’
      • ‘I tried to sink a little bit deeper in my chair, hoping no one would see me.’
      • ‘Max gave him a big fake smile, which quickly faded as he sunk into the couch.’
      • ‘I relaxed completely, sinking down in my seat until my head hit the top of my chair.’
      • ‘I sighed deeply, letting my body sink down into the comforter, too fatigued to try and appear in control in all the ways I clearly wasn't.’
      • ‘Exhausted, Ben sank into the chair and dropped his head against the bed.’
      • ‘I let my body sink into the great white cloud of bubbles.’
      • ‘He heard soft footsteps and sank slowly to the floor.’
      • ‘As Sharapova sank to her knees at winning the Wimbledon title four months ago, she provided the perfect solution for the people who market women's tennis.’
      • ‘I sank into the deep blue luxurious cushions and looked round.’
      • ‘The attack continued even when the man had sunk to his knees.’
      • ‘He could feel his body sink slowly into the bed and his back cracked, relieving some of the tension that had built up all day.’
      • ‘Jason picked up the phone and dropped it on the ground before sinking to his knees.’
      • ‘She began to walk out the door but she heard him sink down on the bed dejectedly.’
      • ‘His grip on me slowly weakened, he sank to his knees, and he vanished.’
      • ‘Francis and Metropolis fell silent and sank into their seats.’
      • ‘He sank to a sitting position with his back against the door, pulling his knees to his chest.’
      • ‘He glances at his watch, moves his coffee to the dash and sinks a little lower in the car seat.’
      • ‘She struggled to get up but failed miserably as she sunk back down.’
      lower oneself, flop, collapse, drop down, slump, plump oneself
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    2. 2.2with adverbial of direction Gradually penetrate into the surface of something.
      ‘her feet sank into the thick pile of the carpet’
      • ‘We can almost hear our own boots sinking into the jungle mud.’
      • ‘Feet sunk into the ground as she took out her camera.’
      • ‘Walking was tiresome as his feet sank into the surface by 4 or 5 inches every step.’
      • ‘After the war it was uncovered, however most of the glass had either washed away or sunk into the chalk below.’
      • ‘The sludge was so soft and sticky it had a quicksand effect, for the more he tried to free himself, the deeper he sank into the mud.’
      • ‘She ran across the spongy ground, her feet sinking and sliding in the mud.’
      • ‘They must sleep in complete darkness, so many vampires go to graveyards or simply sink into the ground, to rise again when the sun sets.’
      • ‘With the first frosts of approaching winter, the surface waters are chilled, increasing in density, and they begin to sink into and below the summer bottom layer.’
      • ‘My feet sunk into the countless, forgiving blades as a cricket chirped and brown moths battered themselves against the dim porch light.’
      • ‘She stood on top of the snow, unlike Hildor who sank knee deep into the white powder.’
      • ‘I felt my fangs sink into flesh and I heard him scream.’
      • ‘It is almost amusing, to watch whomever it is drag themselves through it, as their feet sink to the ground almost immediately.’
      • ‘But in densely built cities, about three-quarters of the rainfall fails to sink into the ground or evaporate.’
      • ‘Slowly, my feet sunk to the ground and I realized I had shut my eyes out of instinct.’
      • ‘The body spilled from the spire, sinking into the sand below.’
      • ‘As I walked in my feet sank into the thick cream carpet.’
      • ‘And there are a lot of parts where our feet sink a little in the mud.’
      • ‘The ground opened up below him and he sunk into the sand, leaving the stone behind.’
      • ‘I was about to say something when I realized my shoe was sinking in the mud.’
      • ‘The waves slowly rolled over her feet as they sunk into the wet sand.’
  • 3no object Gradually decrease or decline in value, amount, quality, or intensity.

    ‘their output sank to a third of the prewar figure’
    ‘the reputation of the mayor sank to a very low level’
    • ‘As they chatted their voices sunk below my hearing.’
    • ‘When the RSI value sinks below the 30 value, the issue is thought to be oversold.’
    • ‘Shareholders face the prospect of paying taxes on gains even as their funds' values are sinking.’
    • ‘On a bad day their status can sink below that even of politicians, estate agents and journalists.’
    • ‘His voice sunk to a barely perceptible level.’
    • ‘If it sinks below zero, you die from hypothermia.’
    • ‘It has literally sunk below being a penny stock, closing Friday at $0.009 per share.’
    • ‘Membership has sunk to below 200,000 and, after 12 years in office, many cabinet ministers are seen as tired, unpopular or not credible leaders.’
    • ‘Shares in high profile orange juice company Charlie's have sunk 33 percent in value in the past two days.’
    • ‘Apparently their trade value had sunk to nil, nix, nothing at all.’
    • ‘By 2001, the New York trading price for unroasted arabica coffee had sunk below 40 cents per pound.’
    • ‘Conversely, falling values will see the same line sinking toward the 0 value.’
    • ‘Today, the price has sunk below 750 euros per barrel.’
    • ‘The greenback dropped to its weakest level against sterling for seven months, and sank against the yen, the euro and the Swiss franc.’
    • ‘But he was not Dow's only critic as Scotia's market value sank below £100m.’
    • ‘As the Protestant middle classes began to withdraw from Unionist politics, the quality of the candidates sank and the party stagnated.’
    • ‘Money flooded out of the country and the value of the currency sank.’
    • ‘They've seen the value of their investments sink - so why would they put good money after bad?’
    • ‘The audience huddled in sleeping bags and blankets as the temperature sank below zero.’
    • ‘‘I suffered with the people,’ she said, her voice sinking to a whisper.’
    fall, drop, become lower, get lower, become quieter, get quieter, become softer, get softer
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    1. 3.1 Lapse or fall into a particular state or condition, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.
      ‘he sank into a coma after suffering a brain hemorrhage’
      • ‘Although it had enjoyed a brief flourishing under Cardinal Richelieu in the 1630s, Mazarin had allowed the navy to sink into decay.’
      • ‘Incapable of reforming itself in the spirit of the new times, the decrepit empire sank into a deep economic and social crisis which it never overcame.’
      • ‘But now, more than ever, he seemed to have completely sunk into the depths of dejection.’
      • ‘But as the world sank into depression, few could afford these cars.’
      • ‘Maybe it's just me who's decaying, sinking into a state of complete insensibility, and not knowing what to do to fix it.’
      • ‘She took a year off work but after three months began sinking into a depression.’
      • ‘The only thing that allowed them to keep from sinking completely into the depths of misery was the thought of going back down to the earth.’
      • ‘Our society has almost sunk into abysmal moral degeneration and deterioration.’
      • ‘I screamed my rage at God for letting it happen and then sank into a depression that Sam was gone.’
      • ‘Only the discovery of oil has prevented the country from sinking into complete misery.’
      • ‘He checked the hotch-potch of crumpled notes in his jacket pocket and sank into a deeper depression.’
      • ‘The troubled prodigies, Slater and Elliott, each sank into a deep funk.’
      • ‘But as Marisa sank into a depression, Sandra picked up and changed her life.’
      • ‘Temporarily disoriented and without any immediate answers, on the way toward recovery, she sank into depression.’
      • ‘It is said that Schoen sank into a depression after the defeat.’
      • ‘The rattle of its hooves was the last thing Hoss heard as he sank into unconsciousness.’
      • ‘I lost my independence with my sight and sank into a deep depression for many years.’
      • ‘Her life sank thereafter into drug and alcohol abuse and institutionalization.’
      • ‘By six months, every single one sinks into malnutrition.’
      • ‘Crowds fell and Boothferry Park sank into disrepair.’
    2. 3.2 Approach death.
      ‘the doctor concluded that Sanders was sinking fast’
      • ‘The physicians attending the President have announced that he is sinking fast.’
      deteriorate, decline, fade, fail, weaken, grow weak, flag, languish, degenerate, decay, waste away
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  • 4with object Insert beneath a surface by digging or hollowing out.

    ‘rails attached with screws sunk below the surface of the wood’
    • ‘Nearly 6,000 hand pumps were sunk to provide drinking water.’
    • ‘Eventually, the next bend reveals a stand of huts, tottering on stilts sunk in the muddy wastes of the lapping river.’
    • ‘Gaining what we presume is the Alexandra Glacier, we rope up and simul-climb for the next three hours, occasionally sinking an ice screw.’
    • ‘They had erected each post, one by one, sinking it deep into the caliche hardpan upon which the town was settled, and then into the softness of the sand below.’
    • ‘The caissons were huge hollow reinforced concrete blocks that were floated across the channel and then sunk when in position.’
    • ‘This smooth and more experienced screwdriver had strengths mine did not, and it sunk the remaining loose screws deep into the wood.’
    • ‘One of the screws was sunk a bit too far, peeking from the right side of the stock.’
    • ‘A hammer might sink a screw, but a screwdriver would be more efficient and effective.’
    • ‘The soil was too sandy to grow food, an urgent need, and poor quality drinking water had to be drained into barrels sunk beneath the ground.’
    embed, insert
    View synonyms
    1. 4.1sink something intowith object Cause something sharp to penetrate (a surface)
      ‘the dog sank its teeth into her arm’
      • ‘Aligore sunk his claws deep into the dragon's hide, then he began to slash.’
      • ‘Miss Walkden spotted the dogs running towards her and picked up her 11-year-old pet - but one of the animals, a pit bull terrier, repeatedly lunged at her, attempting to sink its teeth into Sooty.’
      • ‘Without the aid of soy sauce or wasabi, our dishevelled hero sinks his teeth into the head of a live and writhing squid.’
      • ‘Seiru sunk his fangs deep into the middle neck, the warm blood tasting sweet on his tongue.’
      • ‘Whether or not you agree with the film's conclusions, you are sure to feel more honest with yourself on your decision on whether to sink your teeth into a beef or vegetarian patty if you attend the screening and participate in the debate.’
      • ‘To widen the choice for the guests and ensure that there are more than just juicy fish chunks for guests to sink their teeth into, buffet lunch and dinner are also being served during the festival days.’
      • ‘The dog sinks his teeth into the young man's meatballs.’
      • ‘These noble big dogs will bleed the ground red as they sink their teeth into one another in the name of nations great and small.’
      • ‘Notwithstanding the extreme cruelty shown to these animals, most of us fail to spare a thought on the matter, before sinking our teeth into a non-vegetarian fare.’
      • ‘Man and cougar went to the ground as the cat stripped the flesh from Parker's face and prepared to sink its teeth into his neck.’
      • ‘She was immediately set upon by his faithful setter, who sank fangs deep into the vampire's throat and almost severed her head from her body.’
      • ‘The large cat had sprung on her in her trace-like state and sunk its fangs deep into her leg.’
      • ‘But instead of sinking his teeth into a succulent pork, egg and pastry treat, Mr Davis found he was crunching glass.’
      • ‘Residents in Penhill will soon be sinking their teeth into succulent pears, plums and cherries all carefully tended by their own green fingers.’
      • ‘I sink my teeth into the hot, steamy, juicy delicacy.’
      • ‘Arin had sunk his claws deep within the angel's arm and had used his other hand to break Lucius's wing.’
      • ‘He snaps at her with his sharp teeth and sinks them into her paw.’
      • ‘For a man who often seems to climb like a half-shut knife, he surely knows how to sink the blade in.’
      • ‘Frankly, I delight in seeing people eagerly sink their teeth into the soft, burning hot, yellowish vegetable, defying the scalding heat of the sweet, sticky juice oozing from under the crisp rind.’
      • ‘She leapt, and sunk the blade into his flesh, again and again, with sadistic pleasure.’
      • ‘There's nothing your native Korean likes better than to sink his teeth into a dog, a reversal of the age-old trend.’
      • ‘This particular store seemed to be on an exotic fruit trip and was piled high with things that Zachery hadn't yet sunk his teeth into.’
      • ‘Asgard purposefully sunk his Blade into the thin red slit and pulled it sideways and down, enlarging it.’
      • ‘Tearing one last time at her skin, she sunk her nails deeper into her flesh and howled loudly, before going limp.’
    2. 4.2 Insert into something.
      ‘Kelly stood watching, her hands sunk deep into her pockets’
      • ‘Ignoring her flailing limbs, and ignoring her desperate screams, Bryan sunk his hand into the bucket, which Christie had dropped only a minute earlier.’
      • ‘According to the pole-vaulting textbook, a pole parallel to the ground is used which is then planted into a box sunk below ground level.’
      • ‘She sank her hands into her pockets.’
    3. 4.3 Excavate (a well) or bore (a shaft) more or less vertically downward.
      ‘they planned to sink a gold mine in Oklahoma’
      • ‘Three shafts had been sunk, the deepest more than forty metres.’
      • ‘The shaft had been sunk an additional 2,518 feet since the start of the project and now had an inclined depth of 6,818 feet.’
      • ‘Today I heard of a borewell sunk to 270 feet that has gone dry; a new one has had to go down to 570 feet before striking water.’
      • ‘We sunk that well, and lo and behold, we heard tapping at the bottom of that well, and that just started the whole thing rolling.’
      • ‘In May 1884 C.W. Marsh was sinking a trial shaft hoping to find gold but only found indications of fossils.’
      dig, excavate, bore, drill
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    4. 4.4 Hit (a ball) into a hole in golf or billiards.
      • ‘What kind of professional pool player doesn't know that you have to sink the black ball last?’
      • ‘Presumably Barber would have sunk an 80-footer had there been another hole.’
      • ‘Scott was in the same bunker and got out and sank a good putt for a birdie.’
      • ‘Your best chance for making birdies is to sink some long putts - and avoid the dreaded three-putt.’
      • ‘Hogan sinks the putt and the crowd goes tearfully goofy.’
      • ‘I would love to do something that meant more than sinking four-foot putts.’
      • ‘We got to the end of the first hole and Warren sank a putt for par.’
      • ‘And he then relied on his putter for salvation at his two closing holes where he sank a couple of ten-footers that just about kept him in the hunt.’
      • ‘Clarkie sank a ball and snookered Dave but this just made him play with more determination.’
      • ‘Gray got a snooker, then sank the last red, potted a great black and cleared up to win the frame 54-53 for 8-8.’
    5. 4.5 (in golf) hit the ball into the hole with (a putt or other shot)
      ‘he sank a four-foot birdie putt at the fifth hole’
      • ‘I would love to do something that meant more than sinking four-foot putts.’
      • ‘We got to the end of the first hole and Warren sank a putt for par.’
      • ‘Scott was in the same bunker and got out and sank a good putt for a birdie.’
      • ‘Your best chance for making birdies is to sink some long putts - and avoid the dreaded three-putt.’
      • ‘Hogan sinks the putt and the crowd goes tearfully goofy.’


Historically, the past tense of sink has been both sank and sunk (the boat sank; the boat sunk), and the past participle has been both sunk and sunken (the boat had already sunk; the boat had already sunken). In modern English, the past is generally sank and the past participle is sunk, with the form sunken now surviving only as an adjective, as in a sunken garden or sunken cheeks


  • a (or that) sinking feeling

    • An unpleasant feeling caused by the realization that something unpleasant or undesirable has happened or is about to happen.

      • ‘When I wake up in the morning I get that sinking feeling, you know?’
      • ‘Suna realized, with a sinking feeling, what the king was talking about.’
      • ‘With a sinking feeling, Rue realized Claire had locked the door and it hadn't been her imagination when she heard the click.’
      • ‘Those clubs that suffer that sinking feeling will probably find it twice as difficult to bounce back, since rumours from the working party on restructuring the leagues are hinting at a ten-team Premiership One.’
      • ‘With a sinking feeling, I realized that Angel had not yet told Wesley what Cordelia and I had just revealed.’
      • ‘Not that I really have homework per se, but there's that sinking feeling of not accomplishing all I wanted to do with my time off, and looking ahead to another week just as busy as the last.’
      • ‘It was impossible but I have got that sinking feeling inside me that I could have done something.’
      • ‘While many York residents got that sinking feeling again over the weekend, one restaurant owner's ingenious flood protection plan has saved him thousands of pounds.’
      • ‘It's that sinking feeling when you discover the very expensive typo.’
      • ‘She took a step toward Glenn, and with a sinking feeling, I realized she was abandoning me.’
  • sink or swim

    • Fail or succeed entirely by one's own efforts.

      • ‘We'll either sink or swim, so let's hope we end the seven days still swimming.’
      • ‘The members of this generation will sink or swim by their own efforts.’
      • ‘Self-destruction - you get to a point where you're either going to sink or swim.’
      • ‘Basically, it's the ‘freedom’ to sink or swim in unassisted isolation from one's indifferent community.’
      • ‘It was a case of sink or swim, we were producing organic milk and the price halved.’
      • ‘All over America, single mothers with nothing like the advantages or prospects of Jeff, Lou and Tom are being told to sink or swim, and their children along with them.’
      • ‘It was sink or swim when we bought Lacken House and Breda qualified as a Sommelier a few years after.’
      • ‘Win or lose, sink or swim, one thing is certain we'll never give in.’
      • ‘Films sink or swim by the combination of actors and writers and in this case the entire production goes belly up because neither team brings out anything truly remarkable.’
      • ‘The state is optimistic that if people are faced with sink or swim, they will swim.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • sink in

    • (of words or facts) be fully understood or realized.

      ‘Peter read the letter twice before its meaning sank in’
      • ‘Even then Grandmother's talk, which I heard many times, had finally sunk in.’
      • ‘I decided it was best to give her some time to think about those words and let it sink in.’
      • ‘Whatever poison she'd been fed about me hadn't sunk in, and she accepted me completely.’
      • ‘Jesse's face softened but his heart stood still as the last of her words sank in.’
      • ‘The words his father spoke sank in and he realized how close he'd come to being murdered.’
      • ‘Once this fact sinks in the consequences will be profound.’
      • ‘Once that truth sinks in, perhaps a serious attempt at resolving the dispute can begin.’
      • ‘I felt very numb, and I don't think the reality of what was happening had completely sunk in just yet.’
      • ‘He left me standing there, tears running down my face, the reality of his words not sinking in till much later.’
      • ‘Friday arrived, and it still hadn't completely sunk in she was leaving.’
      • ‘However, reality quickly sinks in as you realize that seconds wasted cost lives.’
      • ‘Maura was about to open her mouth to say more, when his words fully began to sink in.’
      • ‘I heard what Sam said, but it only sunk in a few moments later that he was talking to me.’
      • ‘But after getting over the initial shock of hearing the man talk, his words sunk in.’
      • ‘Stuart has now returned after his 109-day feat and said the events of the past months had not yet sunk in.’
      • ‘Whether this reality has yet to fully sink in with the majority of the American people is unclear.’
      • ‘I think the fact started sinking in that we weren't dating anymore, for which I was grateful.’
      • ‘How much more of this do we need to see before the truth sinks in?’
      • ‘Her climb up this ‘scary ladder’ still hasn't completely sunk in.’
      • ‘I don't think what I've seen and heard earlier today has really sunk in just yet.’
      register, penetrate, be understood, be comprehended, be realized, be taken in, be grasped, become clear, get through
      View synonyms
  • sink something into

    • Put money or energy into (something); invest something in.

      ‘many investors sank their life savings into the company’
      • ‘Ultimately he argues investors will sink their money into the US economy.’
      • ‘Apparently the Asians have ‘straps’ so it's better to sink your money in an Uzi.’
      • ‘Between them, the partners have sunk £100,000 into the business.’
      • ‘News Corp has sunk an estimated $700 million cash into both ventures.’
      • ‘Bad news is in prospect for the many Australians who've sunk their investment money into property.’
      • ‘The pensioners will be lured to sink their savings into investments.’
      • ‘I could have retired early if I sunk that money into savings.’
      invest, put, venture, risk, plough
      View synonyms


Old English sincan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zinken and German sinken.




Main definitions of sink in US English:

: sink1sink2



  • 1A fixed basin with a water supply and a drain.

    • ‘Look around the sink, slow draining pipes indicate a blocked drain.’
    • ‘He leaned over the sink basin, and washed his hands and face with icy water, and then looked up at his face in the mirror.’
    • ‘The utility room off the kitchen also has fitted units and a sink.’
    • ‘Peyton stated as she saw the clothes and hair supplies by the sink.’
    • ‘Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures.’
    • ‘The kitchen is fitted with a range of units and a sink, but is relatively small and needs to be updated.’
    • ‘A utility room off the kitchen has its own sink unit along with built-in worktops and storage cupboards.’
    • ‘Also, sensors embedded in bathtub drains and kitchen sinks could check for patterns of secretions which indicate disease.’
    • ‘A large dressing room, huge shower with endless supply of hot and cold running water, double sinks and indoor plumbing are all hidden behind the bedroom suites.’
    • ‘He pushed his chair out from the table, took his bowl to the sink and ran some water into it.’
    • ‘Beside the toilet is a tiny sink with a basin so small my two hands are just able to fit under it.’
    • ‘The kitchen has fitted presses, a steel sink unit and a tiled floor.’
    • ‘The kitchen has a small sink and some storage units, but needs to be renovated.’
    • ‘Always start cooking in a clean kitchen and keep a sink half filled with hot soapy water while you are preparing the meal.’
    • ‘Mike handed his uncle a large wrench and Adam got down onto the floor, and began to loosen the pipe under the sink.’
    • ‘He added that water from the sink, washing machine and wash basins is prone to overflowing and running back underneath the house instead of down the outside drain.’
    • ‘A plastic basin in the sink collects washing-up water and other water used.’
    • ‘Also, when doing activities such as rinsing vegetables or shaving, half fill the sink or basin instead of letting the water run.’
    • ‘The kitchen has fitted wall and floor units, a double sink and a fitted oven, hob and extractor.’
    • ‘He turned and left with the bottle on the sink counter and the basin in hand.’
  • 2A pool or marsh in which a river's water disappears by evaporation or percolation.

    • ‘Once again, however, rumours of caves higher on the hillside and far off river sinks abound.’
    1. 2.1technical A body or process which acts to absorb or remove energy or a particular component from a system.
      ‘a heat sink’
      The opposite of source
      ‘the oceans can act as a sink for CO₂’
      • ‘How do you view the potential of planting trees as a sink for CO2 at the moment?’
      • ‘We had a bloom a couple of years ago in Jervis Bay, NSW so we know that they can be very abundant and in the oceans they're actually the major sink for carbon dioxide.’
      • ‘The newly formed sprout may function as a sink for the low molecular weight products of starch degradation.’
      • ‘Therefore, bacteria were not a major sink for the nitrate tracer.’
      • ‘The marine environment provides a sink for many natural and anthropogenically derived chemicals.’
  • 3

    short for sinkhole
    • ‘A sinkhole, also known as a sink, shake hole, swallow hole, swallet, doline or cenote, is a natural depression or hole in the surface topography’
  • 4A place of vice or corruption.

    ‘a sink of unnatural vice, pride, and luxury’
    • ‘When the town turns up as the location for a television show it is almost invariably portrayed as a sink of industrial decay and urban alienation.’
    • ‘The country is a sink of depravity by almost anyone's standards.’


Middle English: from sink.