verb (used without object), sank or, often, sunk; sunk or sunk·en; sink·ing.

verb (used with object), sank or, often, sunk; sunk or sunk·en; sink·ing.



    sink one's teeth into,
    1. to bite deeply or vigorously.
    2. to do or enter into with great enthusiasm, concentration, conviction, etc.: to sink my teeth into solving the problem.

Origin of sink

before 1000; (v.) Middle English sinken, Old English sincan; cognate with Dutch zinken, German sinken, Old Norse sǫkkva, Gothic singkwan; (noun) late Middle English: cesspool, derivative of the v.
Related formssink·a·ble, adjectivesink·like, adjectivehalf-sink·ing, adjectivenon·sink·a·ble, adjectiveself-sink·ing, adjectiveun·sink·a·ble, adjectiveun·sink·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sink

Contemporary Examples of sink

Historical Examples of sink

British Dictionary definitions for sink


verb sinks, sinking, sank, sunk or sunken

to descend or cause to descend, esp beneath the surface of a liquid or soft substance
(intr) to appear to move down towards or descend below the horizon
(intr) to slope downwards; dip
(intr; often foll by in or into) to pass into or gradually enter a specified lower state or conditionto sink into apathy
to make or become lower in volume, pitch, etc
to make or become lower in value, price, etc
(intr) to become weaker in health, strength, etc
to decline or cause to decline in moral value, worth, etc
(intr) to seep or penetrate
(tr) to suppress or concealhe sank his worries in drink
(tr) to dig, cut, drill, bore, or excavate (a hole, shaft, etc)
(tr) to drive into the groundto sink a stake
(tr; usually foll by in or into)
  1. to invest (money)
  2. to lose (money) in an unwise or unfortunate investment
(tr) to pay (a debt)
(intr) to become hollow; cave inhis cheeks had sunk during his illness
(tr) to hit, throw, or propel (a ball) into a hole, basket, pocket, etche sank a 15-foot putt
(tr) British informal to drink, esp quicklyhe sank three pints in half an hour
sink or swim to take risks where the alternatives are loss and failure or security and success


a fixed basin, esp in a kitchen, made of stone, earthenware, metal, etc, used for washing
another word for cesspool
a place of vice or corruption
an area of ground below that of the surrounding land, where water collects
physics a device or part of a system at which energy is removed from the systema heat sink


informal (of a housing estate or school) deprived or having low standards of achievement
Derived Formssinkable, adjective

Word Origin for sink

Old English sincan; related to Old Norse sökkva to sink, Gothic siggan, Old High German sincan, Swedish sjunka
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 sink

Old English sincan (intransitive) "become submerged, go under, subside" (past tense sanc, past participle suncen), from Proto-Germanic *senkwanan (cf. Old Saxon sinkan, Old Norse sökkva, Middle Dutch sinken, Dutch zinken, Old High German sinkan, German sinken, Gothic sigqan), from PIE root *sengw- "to sink."

The transitive use (mid-13c.) supplanted Middle English sench (cf. drink/drench) which died out 14c. Related: Sank; sunk; sinking. Sinking fund is from 1724. Adjective phrase sink or swim is from 1660s. To sink without a trace is World War I military jargon, translating German spurlos versenkt.


early 15c., "cesspool, pit for reception of wastewater or sewage," from sink (v.). Figurative sense of "place where corruption and vice abound" is from 1520s. Meaning "drain for carrying water to a sink" is from late 15c. Sense of "shallow basin (especially in a kitchen) with a drainpipe for carrying off dirty water" first recorded 1560s. In science and technical use, "place where heat or other energy is removed from a system" (opposite of source), from 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for sink



A part of the physical environment, or more generally any physical system, that absorbs some form of matter or energy. For example, a forest acts as a sink for carbon dioxide because it absorbs more of the gas in photosynthesis than it releases in respiration. Coral reefs are a long-lasting sink for carbon, which they sequester in their skeletons in the form of calcium carbonate.
  1. See playa.
  2. See sinkhole.
  3. A circular depression on the flank of a volcano, caused by the collapse of a volcanic wall.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with sink


In addition to the idioms beginning with sink

  • sink in
  • sinking feeling, a
  • sink one's teeth into
  • sink or swim
  • sink through the floor

also see:

  • desert a sinking ship
  • enough to sink a ship
  • everything but the kitchen sink
  • heart sinks
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.