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on the rocks

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1

Ruined, spoiled, as in Six months after the wedding, their marriage was on the rocks. This expression, alluding to a ship running aground on rocks and breaking apart, has been used figuratively for other disasters since the late 1800s.

2

Served over ice only, as in He always drinks whiskey on the rocks. The “rocks” here are the ice cubes. [Mid-1900s]

3

Destitute, bankrupt, as in Can I borrow next month's rent? I'm on the rocks. This usage, from the late 1800s, is heard more often in Britain than America.

QUIZ
QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!
Were you ready for a quiz on this topic? Well, here it is! See how well you can differentiate between the uses of "was" vs. "were" in this quiz.
Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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