dead in the water


Unable to function or move; inoperable. For example, Without an effective leader, our plans for expansion are dead in the water. Originally referring to a crippled ship, this colloquialism was soon applied more broadly.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.