verb (used without object)

to die under water or other liquid of suffocation.

verb (used with object)

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 formsdrown·er, nounhalf-drowned, adjectivehalf-drown·ing, adjectiveun·drowned, adjective

Synonyms for drown

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for drowning

Contemporary Examples of drowning

Historical Examples of drowning

  • Only in the cafes there is a clamor of voices and a drowning of care.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • And I don't mind your drowning sorrow in the flowing bowl, either.

  • "It's a drowning man's straw," he said, a little breathlessly.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • "And there's a third reason why I wish to be away," went on Roland, drowning the noise.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • I glanced at his daughter: she hung on him with a drowning look.

British Dictionary definitions for drowning



to die or kill by immersion in liquid
(tr) to destroy or get rid of as if by submerginghe drowned his sorrows in drink
(tr) to drench thoroughly; inundate; flood
(tr sometimes foll by out) to render (a sound) inaudible by making a loud noise
Derived Formsdrowner, noun

Word Origin for drown

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

Word Origin and History for drowning



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

Idioms and Phrases with drowning


In addition to the idioms beginning with drown

  • drown one's sorrows
  • drown out

also see:

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