Main definitions of sink in US English:

: sink1sink2


verbsank, sunk

  • 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’
    • ‘That part became waterlogged, so it sunk below the surface, but didn't lose its ability to float.’
    • ‘Instead of returning to the surface, Sophie sank to the bottom of the 3ft pool.’
    • ‘It shows a car from below as it sinks toward the seabed amid a swirling shoal of silvery fish.’
    • ‘Exhale and empty your lungs as much as possible, and you sink below the surface.’
    • ‘The rock promptly sank below the surface, submerging the hook and its bait.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In that world, Atlantis has sunk below the sea, and the island of Marmo isn't in any known records.’
    • ‘Do not dig a hole deeper than the roots or the soil and your apple will sink below ground level.’
    • ‘Laure's in the bathtub and she's sinking below the surface, and the water is flowing over the top.’
    • ‘They thought that Miranda's rugged terrain was a result of heavier rocks sinking below the lighter ice crust.’
    • ‘In such a place things are dumped over the side, and after a moment bobbing unnoticed on the surface, they sink to the bottom.’
    • ‘I sunk deeper below the surface of the raging river, and was losing all incentive to try and get back up.’
    • ‘It skipped several times before it sunk down below the surface.’
    • ‘Slowly, the rock they stood on began to sink below the rest of the ground.’
    • ‘Lori just sunk below the surface of the water and swam out of the cave.’
    • ‘She sank below the surface and tried to see how long she could hold her breath.’
    • ‘The grains submerged immediately on contact with the surface, and sank rapidly, accumulating at the bottom.’
    • ‘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.’
    become submerged, be engulfed, go down, drop, fall, descend
    View synonyms
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One man died and two crewmen were seriously injured on Thursday night when their cargo ship sank near Sai Kung waters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The vessel has sunk at its moorings several times in recent years and needed pumping out by fire fighters.’
      • ‘This ship sank while underway, and now rests on its starboard side.’
      • ‘Officials detonated three sets of explosive charges on board, and the 2,500-ton vessel slowly sank below the surface.’
      • ‘Salvors fear the ship will sink if the engine room and one of the holds is ‘lost’ during the next refloating attempt.’
      • ‘Of Scharnhorst's crew of 1,968, just 36 were rescued from the icy waters as their wrecked ship sank.’
      • ‘The government's response was to distance itself from the tragedy, claiming repeatedly that the boat had sunk in Indonesian waters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The ship sank, killing seven of the crew, and collapsing two pylons and 127 metres of bridge decking into water 110 feet deep.’
      • ‘We kept getting closer and closer to the water as the ship sank.’
      • ‘As the three of them looked on, the ship was sinking slowly and steadily into the water.’
      • ‘If the seacock for the engine intake is left open, the boat sinks when the ice thaws.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, as sure as night follows day a refugee boat has sunk with loss of life.’
      • ‘As the last English galley sinks below the waves, an English emissary arrives at Bangalore under a white flag of truce.’
      • ‘What do you grab onto when the ship is sinking and the waters are closing over your head?’
      • ‘‘A sea of fire stretched from stem to stern,’ one crewman observed as the ship sank, her aft section ripped away.’
      • ‘One ship sinks, many sailors die, and Martin points out to Candide that the gruesome affair further proves his point.’
      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’
      • ‘An initial examination revealed that a water pipe used to cool the engine had broken and flooded the engine room, nearly sinking the ship.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That was the night Japanese submarines attacked Sydney, sinking the accommodation ferry Kuttabul and claiming the lives of 21 sailors.’
      • ‘He was sailing a ship during a violent storm that had all but sunk the vessel.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘German submarines eventually sank 391 ships in the western Atlantic, 141 of which were tankers.’
      • ‘Apart from sinking the accommodation ship HMAS Kuttabul, with the loss of 21 lives, the attack caused little other damage.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The captain of a big ship sinks a small boat because, otherwise, both will drown at a particular juncture.’
      • ‘Navy coastguard personnel retrieved seven crewmembers who had been working on a Sattahip fishing vessel after strong waves sank their boat.’
      • ‘Submarines were supposed to surface and give crews time to abandon ship before sinking their vessels.’
      • ‘Gale force winds and strong tides sank a rowing boat on the Thames in Barnes on Sunday.’
      • ‘It does seem a bit inappropriate though considering the unsinkable ship was sunk by an iceberg all those years ago.’
      • ‘One Carthaginian sea captain sank his ship rather than let his charts fall into Roman hands.’
      • ‘Some 69 boats were sunk or destroyed when the hurricane took out concrete piers anchoring the floating docks.’
      • ‘Last December, the Japanese Coast Guard sunk an unidentified ship, claiming it was a North Korean spy ship.’
      • ‘The ship is sunk, the whale-boats destroyed, and Ahab himself is yanked to his death by the very iron he himself forged.’
      • ‘So, Ford wants to sink the ship rather than allow the flagship of the Russian sub fleet get into enemy hands.’
      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’
      • ‘Even Hayek's buoyant presence fails to keep this cinematic clunker from sinking.’
      • ‘Audiences stayed away and the film sank away without a trace at the theaters.’
      • ‘The town of Catania lost all its inhabitants, and ultimately sank into complete oblivion.’
      • ‘Hugh Laurie's intelligence and charm keep this strained romantic comedy from sinking completely.’
      • ‘With obviously limited spectator value it swiftly sank without trace before the next Olympics.’
      • ‘You want to sink into oblivion, and you can't find a way.’
      • ‘As for movies, Blade Runner ran by them, Star Wars failed to shine, and Titanic sank without trace.’
      • ‘A complex land-swap deal will sink if the city reneges on existing deals.’
      • ‘How did the media magically decide that he is struggling, sinking, tanking, you know, five months before anyone gets to vote?’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4with object Cause to fail.
      ‘she apparently wishes to sink the company’
      • ‘His involvement has really sunk us.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Independent film review sites can sink a film in hours.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 public lies were huge enough to have sunk their governments in cleaner times.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That one-two punch effectively sunk her acting career for good.’
      • ‘The bid was finally sunk last weekend when the existing course could not stand up to torrential rain.’
      • ‘However, despite the enthusiastic endorsement of the Welsh clubs, the SRU's rejection appears to have sunk the plan.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Even if it rains the entire time, it won't totally sink your plans.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, although the movie's self-importance causes the project to take on water, it fails to sink it.’
      • ‘She sank his chances in a single speech and a memorable phrase.’
      • ‘Yet it is the criminality that has sunk a cosy deal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And it was Robert Anderson's report of yesterday that has sunk Jobie Dajka's Olympic hopes, it seems.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He has appealed to all doctors to sink their differences and come together in the larger interests of the doctors' community.’
      • ‘It was this anomalous situation that compelled the French left to sink their differences and form a common front against the ruling Gaullists.’
      • ‘Subsequently, the two managed to sink their differences.’
      • ‘In 1828 liberals and Catholics sank their differences and joined constitutional associations to force William to give ground.’
      • ‘The sheikh also hoped that the leaders will try to sink their differences for the best interest of the movement.’
      ignore, overlook, disregard, forget, put aside, set aside, put to one side, bury, consign to oblivion
      View synonyms
  • 2no object Descend; drop.

    ‘you can relax on the veranda as the sun sinks’
    ‘Sam felt the ground sinking beneath his feet’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sun had just begun to sink below the hills when they reached the roof.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To create usable land, water had to be pumped out of the area, which in turn caused the ground to sink even lower.’
    • ‘In the evenings we gathered on the porch as the sun sank low and watched the animals come in.’
    • ‘And that as a result, the land mass now actually sinks, because it's fine alluvial soil.’
    • ‘Finally, the top of the sun sank beneath the waves, and I turned in awe to Nick, beside me.’
    • ‘As a result of subsidence and rising sea levels worldwide Venice has sunk by 23 cm since 1900.’
    • ‘As it started to sink below the horizon, it cast a fiery, golden glow over all the land.’
    • ‘Corporations fail to understand that the island has sunk.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sun was just getting ready to sink below the waves and it cast a warm light on the shiny surface of the water.’
    • ‘The sky was exploding as the blood red sun sank below the horizon.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We were nearing one of Italy's most horrid swamps, and the ground beneath us sank freely underneath our feet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As the sun sank below the horizon, the festivities ended with concerts, mostly of the dangdut variety.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘Francis and Metropolis fell silent and sank into their seats.’
      • ‘Adam's smile faded and he sank back into the bed, looking small and tired, sensing their thoughts.’
      • ‘I let my body sink into the great white cloud of bubbles.’
      • ‘The attack continued even when the man had sunk to his knees.’
      • ‘He glances at his watch, moves his coffee to the dash and sinks a little lower in the car seat.’
      • ‘Exhausted, Ben sank into the chair and dropped his head against the bed.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Max gave him a big fake smile, which quickly faded as he sunk into the couch.’
      • ‘He sank to a sitting position with his back against the door, pulling his knees to his chest.’
      • ‘She began to walk out the door but she heard him sink down on the bed dejectedly.’
      • ‘I sank into the deep blue luxurious cushions and looked round.’
      • ‘His grip on me slowly weakened, he sank to his knees, and he vanished.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He heard soft footsteps and sank slowly to the floor.’
      • ‘She struggled to get up but failed miserably as she sunk back down.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I relaxed completely, sinking down in my seat until my head hit the top of my chair.’
      • ‘Jason picked up the phone and dropped it on the ground before sinking to his knees.’
      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’
      • ‘She stood on top of the snow, unlike Hildor who sank knee deep into the white powder.’
      • ‘Feet sunk into the ground as she took out her camera.’
      • ‘And there are a lot of parts where our feet sink a little in the mud.’
      • ‘I felt my fangs sink into flesh and I heard him scream.’
      • ‘My feet sunk into the countless, forgiving blades as a cricket chirped and brown moths battered themselves against the dim porch light.’
      • ‘After the war it was uncovered, however most of the glass had either washed away or sunk into the chalk below.’
      • ‘Walking was tiresome as his feet sank into the surface by 4 or 5 inches every step.’
      • ‘We can almost hear our own boots sinking into the jungle mud.’
      • ‘The body spilled from the spire, sinking into the sand below.’
      • ‘The ground opened up below him and he sunk into the sand, leaving the stone behind.’
      • ‘The waves slowly rolled over her feet as they sunk into the wet sand.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Slowly, my feet sunk to the ground and I realized I had shut my eyes out of instinct.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But in densely built cities, about three-quarters of the rainfall fails to sink into the ground or evaporate.’
      • ‘She ran across the spongy ground, her feet sinking and sliding in the mud.’
      • ‘As I walked in my feet sank into the thick cream carpet.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was about to say something when I realized my shoe was sinking in the mud.’
      • ‘It is almost amusing, to watch whomever it is drag themselves through it, as their feet sink to the ground almost immediately.’
  • 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’
    • ‘Today, the price has sunk below 750 euros per barrel.’
    • ‘They've seen the value of their investments sink - so why would they put good money after bad?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Money flooded out of the country and the value of the currency sank.’
    • ‘Shareholders face the prospect of paying taxes on gains even as their funds' values are sinking.’
    • ‘Shares in high profile orange juice company Charlie's have sunk 33 percent in value in the past two days.’
    • ‘His voice sunk to a barely perceptible level.’
    • ‘‘I suffered with the people,’ she said, her voice sinking to a whisper.’
    • ‘When the RSI value sinks below the 30 value, the issue is thought to be oversold.’
    • ‘The greenback dropped to its weakest level against sterling for seven months, and sank against the yen, the euro and the Swiss franc.’
    • ‘As the Protestant middle classes began to withdraw from Unionist politics, the quality of the candidates sank and the party stagnated.’
    • ‘On a bad day their status can sink below that even of politicians, estate agents and journalists.’
    • ‘Conversely, falling values will see the same line sinking toward the 0 value.’
    • ‘The audience huddled in sleeping bags and blankets as the temperature sank below zero.’
    • ‘As they chatted their voices sunk below my hearing.’
    • ‘By 2001, the New York trading price for unroasted arabica coffee had sunk below 40 cents per pound.’
    • ‘Apparently their trade value had sunk to nil, nix, nothing at all.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But he was not Dow's only critic as Scotia's market value sank below £100m.’
    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’
      • ‘She took a year off work but after three months began sinking into a depression.’
      • ‘Maybe it's just me who's decaying, sinking into a state of complete insensibility, and not knowing what to do to fix it.’
      • ‘Only the discovery of oil has prevented the country from sinking into complete misery.’
      • ‘I screamed my rage at God for letting it happen and then sank into a depression that Sam was gone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is said that Schoen sank into a depression after the defeat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He checked the hotch-potch of crumpled notes in his jacket pocket and sank into a deeper depression.’
      • ‘Although it had enjoyed a brief flourishing under Cardinal Richelieu in the 1630s, Mazarin had allowed the navy to sink into decay.’
      • ‘But as the world sank into depression, few could afford these cars.’
      • ‘The rattle of its hooves was the last thing Hoss heard as he sank into unconsciousness.’
      • ‘Crowds fell and Boothferry Park sank into disrepair.’
      • ‘By six months, every single one sinks into malnutrition.’
      • ‘The troubled prodigies, Slater and Elliott, each sank into a deep funk.’
      • ‘But now, more than ever, he seemed to have completely sunk into the depths of dejection.’
      • ‘Our society has almost sunk into abysmal moral degeneration and deterioration.’
    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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Gaining what we presume is the Alexandra Glacier, we rope up and simul-climb for the next three hours, occasionally sinking an ice screw.’
    • ‘This smooth and more experienced screwdriver had strengths mine did not, and it sunk the remaining loose screws deep into the wood.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A hammer might sink a screw, but a screwdriver would be more efficient and effective.’
    • ‘One of the screws was sunk a bit too far, peeking from the right side of the stock.’
    • ‘The caissons were huge hollow reinforced concrete blocks that were floated across the channel and then sunk when in position.’
    • ‘Eventually, the next bend reveals a stand of huts, tottering on stilts sunk in the muddy wastes of the lapping river.’
    • ‘Nearly 6,000 hand pumps were sunk to provide drinking water.’
    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’
      • ‘The large cat had sprung on her in her trace-like state and sunk its fangs deep into her leg.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Residents in Penhill will soon be sinking their teeth into succulent pears, plums and cherries all carefully tended by their own green fingers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Asgard purposefully sunk his Blade into the thin red slit and pulled it sideways and down, enlarging it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's nothing your native Korean likes better than to sink his teeth into a dog, a reversal of the age-old trend.’
      • ‘Seiru sunk his fangs deep into the middle neck, the warm blood tasting sweet on his tongue.’
      • ‘Arin had sunk his claws deep within the angel's arm and had used his other hand to break Lucius's wing.’
      • ‘Aligore sunk his claws deep into the dragon's hide, then he began to slash.’
      • ‘But instead of sinking his teeth into a succulent pork, egg and pastry treat, Mr Davis found he was crunching glass.’
      • ‘Tearing one last time at her skin, she sunk her nails deeper into her flesh and howled loudly, before going limp.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Without the aid of soy sauce or wasabi, our dishevelled hero sinks his teeth into the head of a live and writhing squid.’
      • ‘I sink my teeth into the hot, steamy, juicy delicacy.’
      • ‘She leapt, and sunk the blade into his flesh, again and again, with sadistic pleasure.’
      • ‘The dog sinks his teeth into the young man's meatballs.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 4.2 Insert into something.
      ‘Kelly stood watching, her hands sunk deep into her pockets’
      • ‘She sank her hands 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.’
    3. 4.3 Excavate (a well) or bore (a shaft) more or less vertically downward.
      ‘they planned to sink a gold mine in Oklahoma’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In May 1884 C.W. Marsh was sinking a trial shaft hoping to find gold but only found indications of fossils.’
      • ‘Three shafts had been sunk, the deepest more than forty metres.’
      • ‘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.’
      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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hogan sinks the putt and the crowd goes tearfully goofy.’
      • ‘Scott was in the same bunker and got out and sank a good putt for a birdie.’
      • ‘I would love to do something that meant more than sinking four-foot putts.’
      • ‘Your best chance for making birdies is to sink some long putts - and avoid the dreaded three-putt.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Presumably Barber would have sunk an 80-footer had there been another hole.’
      • ‘We got to the end of the first hole and Warren sank a putt for par.’
    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.’
      • ‘Hogan sinks the putt and the crowd goes tearfully goofy.’
      • ‘Scott was in the same bunker and got out and sank a good putt for a birdie.’
      • ‘We got to the end of the first hole and Warren sank a putt for par.’
      • ‘Your best chance for making birdies is to sink some long putts - and avoid the dreaded three-putt.’


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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Suna realized, with a sinking feeling, what the king was talking about.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With a sinking feeling, Rue realized Claire had locked the door and it hadn't been her imagination when she heard the click.’
      • ‘When I wake up in the morning I get that sinking feeling, you know?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • sink or swim

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

      • ‘Self-destruction - you get to a point where you're either going to sink or swim.’
      • ‘It was sink or swim when we bought Lacken House and Breda qualified as a Sommelier a few years after.’
      • ‘The members of this generation will sink or swim by their own efforts.’
      • ‘We'll either sink or swim, so let's hope we end the seven days still swimming.’
      • ‘Win or lose, sink or swim, one thing is certain we'll never give in.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Basically, it's the ‘freedom’ to sink or swim in unassisted isolation from one's indifferent community.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was a case of sink or swim, we were producing organic milk and the price halved.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • sink in

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

      ‘Peter read the letter twice before its meaning sank in’
      • ‘Jesse's face softened but his heart stood still as the last of her words sank in.’
      • ‘He left me standing there, tears running down my face, the reality of his words not sinking in till much later.’
      • ‘Her climb up this ‘scary ladder’ still hasn't completely sunk in.’
      • ‘Even then Grandmother's talk, which I heard many times, had finally sunk in.’
      • ‘I don't think what I've seen and heard earlier today has really sunk in just yet.’
      • ‘I decided it was best to give her some time to think about those words and let it sink in.’
      • ‘Once that truth sinks in, perhaps a serious attempt at resolving the dispute can begin.’
      • ‘I think the fact started sinking in that we weren't dating anymore, for which I was grateful.’
      • ‘Whether this reality has yet to fully sink in with the majority of the American people is unclear.’
      • ‘I felt very numb, and I don't think the reality of what was happening had completely sunk in just yet.’
      • ‘But after getting over the initial shock of hearing the man talk, his words sunk in.’
      • ‘The words his father spoke sank in and he realized how close he'd come to being murdered.’
      • ‘I heard what Sam said, but it only sunk in a few moments later that he was talking to me.’
      • ‘Friday arrived, and it still hadn't completely sunk in she was leaving.’
      • ‘Maura was about to open her mouth to say more, when his words fully began to sink in.’
      • ‘Whatever poison she'd been fed about me hadn't sunk in, and she accepted me completely.’
      • ‘However, reality quickly sinks in as you realize that seconds wasted cost lives.’
      • ‘Stuart has now returned after his 109-day feat and said the events of the past months had not yet sunk in.’
      • ‘How much more of this do we need to see before the truth sinks in?’
      • ‘Once this fact sinks in the consequences will be profound.’
      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.’
      • ‘I could have retired early if I sunk that money into savings.’
      • ‘The pensioners will be lured to sink their savings into investments.’
      • ‘Apparently the Asians have ‘straps’ so it's better to sink your money in an Uzi.’
      • ‘Bad news is in prospect for the many Australians who've sunk their investment money into property.’
      • ‘News Corp has sunk an estimated $700 million cash into both ventures.’
      • ‘Between them, the partners have sunk £100,000 into the business.’
      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.

    • ‘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 a small sink and some storage units, but needs to be renovated.’
    • ‘He turned and left with the bottle on the sink counter and the basin in hand.’
    • ‘A utility room off the kitchen has its own sink unit along with built-in worktops and storage cupboards.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The utility room off the kitchen also has fitted units and a sink.’
    • ‘The kitchen is fitted with a range of units and a sink, but is relatively small and needs to be updated.’
    • ‘The kitchen has fitted presses, a steel sink unit and a tiled floor.’
    • ‘He pushed his chair out from the table, took his bowl to the sink and ran some water into it.’
    • ‘Always start cooking in a clean kitchen and keep a sink half filled with hot soapy water while you are preparing the meal.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures.’
    • ‘Also, when doing activities such as rinsing vegetables or shaving, half fill the sink or basin instead of letting the water run.’
    • ‘Peyton stated as she saw the clothes and hair supplies by the sink.’
    • ‘Mike handed his uncle a large wrench and Adam got down onto the floor, and began to loosen the pipe under the sink.’
    • ‘Also, sensors embedded in bathtub drains and kitchen sinks could check for patterns of secretions which indicate disease.’
    • ‘The kitchen has fitted wall and floor units, a double sink and a fitted oven, hob and extractor.’
    • ‘A plastic basin in the sink collects washing-up water and other water used.’
    • ‘Look around the sink, slow draining pipes indicate a blocked drain.’
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘How do you view the potential of planting trees as a sink for CO2 at the moment?’
      • ‘The marine environment provides a sink for many natural and anthropogenically derived chemicals.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
    • ‘The country is a sink of depravity by almost anyone's standards.’
    • ‘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.’


Middle English: from sink.