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[droun] /draʊn/
verb (used without object)
to die under water or other liquid of suffocation.
verb (used with object)
to kill by submerging under water or other liquid.
to destroy or get rid of by, or as if by, immersion:
He drowned his sorrows in drink.
to flood or inundate.
to overwhelm so as to render inaudible, as by a louder sound (often followed by out).
to add too much water or liquid to (a drink, food, or the like).
to slake (lime) by covering with water and letting stand.
Verb phrases
drown in,
  1. to be overwhelmed by:
    The company is drowning in bad debts.
  2. to be covered with or enveloped in:
    The old movie star was drowning in mink.
Origin of drown
1250-1300; Middle English drounnen, Old English druncnian, perhaps by loss of c between nasals and shift of length from nn to ou
Related forms
drowner, noun
half-drowned, adjective
half-drowning, adjective
undrowned, adjective
4. deluge, engulf, submerge, drench, soak. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for half-drowned
Historical Examples
  • Lambert came to himself with a half-drowned sense of suffocation.

  • You get half-drowned, or drowned altogether, before you discover your danger.

    Angling Sketches Andrew Lang
  • And seems to me it sounded like a half-drowned shout for help.

    Afloat on the Flood

    Lawrence J. Leslie
  • The engineer placed the half-drowned creature by its mother's side.

    Brooks's Readers, Third Year Stratton D. Brooks
  • "Not about a half-drowned girl taking the trouble to wash her face," he said.

    The Seven Darlings Gouverneur Morris
  • The half-drowned man seizes it, and gulps the contents down.

    Rogues and Vagabonds George R. Sims
  • The half-drowned youth was roused, and stared about him in a bewildered way.

    Blazing Arrow Edward S. Ellis
  • I found her half-drowned, a helpless infant tied to a floating spar.

    Temporal Power Marie Corelli
  • When at last I ran to find him, the waves were licking his body, and half-drowned was he….

    Star of Mercia Blanche Devereux
  • In this way poor Bombay returned to me half-drowned in perspiration.

British Dictionary definitions for half-drowned


nearly dead or killed by immersion in liquid: half-drowned crewmen lay on the planks


to die or kill by immersion in liquid
(transitive) to destroy or get rid of as if by submerging: he drowned his sorrows in drink
(transitive) to drench thoroughly; inundate; flood
(transitive) sometimes foll by out. to render (a sound) inaudible by making a loud noise
Derived Forms
drowner, noun
Word Origin
C13: probably from Old English druncnian; related to Old Norse drukna to be drowned
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for half-drowned



c.1300, transitive and intransitive, perhaps from an unrecorded derivative word of Old English druncnian (Middle English druncnen) "be swallowed up by water" (originally of ships as well as living things), probably from the base of drincan "to drink."

Modern form is from northern England dialect, probably influenced by Old Norse drukna "be drowned." Related: Drowned; drowning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with half-drowned
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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