above water, out of embarrassment or trouble, especially of a financial nature: They had so many medical bills that they could hardly keep their heads above water.
    break water,
    1. to break the surface of the water by emerging from it.
    2. break the surface of the water with the feet, especially in swimming the breaststroke doing the frog kick.
    3. Medicine/ break the amniotic sac prior to parturition.
    by water, by ship or boat: to send goods by water.
    dead in the water. dead(def 41).
    hold water,
    1. to be logical, defensible, or valid: That accusation won't hold water.
    2. to check the movement of a rowboat by keeping the oars steady with the blades vertical.
    in deep water, in great distress or difficulty: Their marriage has been in deep water for some time.
    in hot water. hot water.
    like water, lavishly; abundantly; freely: The champagne flowed like water.
    make one's mouth water, to excite a desire or appetite for something: The roasting turkey made our mouths water.
    make water,
    1. (of a boat) to allow water to enter; leak.
    2. to urinate.
    tread water. tread(def 23).

Origin of water

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English wæter; cognate with Dutch water, German Wasser; akin to Old Norse vain, Gothic wato, Hittite watar, Greek hýdōr; (v.) Middle English wateren, Old English wæterian, derivative of the noun
Related formswa·ter·er, nounwa·ter·less, adjectivewa·ter·less·ly, adverbwa·ter·less·ness, nounwa·ter·like, adjectiveout·wa·ter, verb (used with object)o·ver·wa·ter, verbre·wa·ter, verb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for water

Contemporary Examples of water

Historical Examples of water

  • A stream of water, pure as crystal, flowed along the path, from the summit to the base.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • And oh, sir,” added Stephen, “may we crave a drop of water for our dog?

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • While beer brings gladness, don't forget That water only makes you wet!

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The ablutionary fluid is most difficult to be had in places where water is abundant.

  • They were without food, and the two bottles of water would not last them long.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

British Dictionary definitions for water



a clear colourless tasteless odourless liquid that is essential for plant and animal life and constitutes, in impure form, rain, oceans, rivers, lakes, etc. It is a neutral substance, an effective solvent for many compounds, and is used as a standard for many physical properties. Formula: H 2 ORelated adjective: aqueous Related combining forms: hydro-, aqua-
  1. any body or area of this liquid, such as a sea, lake, river, etc
  2. (as modifier)water sports; water transport; a water plant Related adjective: aquatic
the surface of such a body or areafish swam below the water
any form or variety of this liquid, such as rain
any of various solutions of chemical substances in waterlithia water; ammonia water
  1. any fluid secreted from the body, such as sweat, urine, or tears
  2. (usually plural)the amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus in the womb
a wavy lustrous finish on some fabrics, esp silk
archaic the degree of brilliance in a diamondSee also first water
excellence, quality, or degree (in the phrase of the first water)
  1. capital stock issued without a corresponding increase in paid-up capital, so that the book value of the company's capital is not fully represented by assets or earning power
  2. the fictitious or unrealistic asset entries that reflect such inflated book value of capital
(modifier) astrology of or relating to the three signs of the zodiac Cancer, Scorpio, and PiscesCompare air (def. 20), earth (def. 10), fire (def. 24)
above the water informal out of trouble or difficulty, esp financial trouble
hold water to prove credible, logical, or consistentthe alibi did not hold water
in deep water in trouble or difficulty
make water
  1. to urinate
  2. (of a boat, hull, etc) to let in water
pass water to urinate
test the water See test 1 (def. 5)
throw cold water on or pour cold water on informal to be unenthusiastic about or discourage
water under the bridge events that are past and done with


(tr) to sprinkle, moisten, or soak with water
(tr often foll by down) to weaken by the addition of water
(intr) (of the eyes) to fill with tears
(intr) (of the mouth) to salivate, esp in anticipation of food (esp in the phrase make one's mouth water)
(tr) to irrigate or provide with waterto water the land; he watered the cattle
(intr) to drink water
(intr) (of a ship, etc) to take in a supply of water
(tr) finance to raise the par value of (issued capital stock) without a corresponding increase in the real value of assets
(tr) to produce a wavy lustrous finish on (fabrics, esp silk)
See also water down
Derived Formswaterer, nounwaterish, adjectivewaterless, adjectivewater-like, adjective

Word Origin for water

Old English wæter, of Germanic origin; compare Old Saxon watar, Old High German wazzar, Gothic watō, Old Slavonic voda; related to Greek hudor
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 water

Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watar (cf. Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wodor/*wedor/*uder-, from root *wed- (cf. Hittite watar, Sanskrit udrah, Greek hydor, Old Church Slavonic and Russian voda, Lithuanian vanduo, Old Prussian wundan, Gaelic uisge "water;" Latin unda "wave").

Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).

To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. First record of water-closet is from 1755. Water-ice as a confection is from 1818. Watering-place is mid-15c., of animals, 1757, of persons. Water-lily first attested 1540s.


Old English wæterian (see water (n.1)). Meaning "to dilute" is attested from late 14c.; now usually as water down (1850). To make water "urinate" is recorded from early 15c. Related: Watered; watering.


measure of quality of a diamond, c.1600, from water (n.1), perhaps as a translation of Arabic ma' "water," which also is used in the sense "lustre, splendor."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for water




A clear, colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid essential for most plant and animal life and the most widely used of all solvents. Freezing point 0°C (32°F); boiling point 100°C (212°F); specific gravity (4°C) 1.0000; weight per gallon (15°C) 8.338 pounds (3.782 kilograms).
Any of the liquids that are present in or passed out of the body, such as urine, perspiration, tears, or saliva.
The fluid that surrounds a fetus in the uterus; amniotic fluid.
An aqueous solution of a substance, especially a gas.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for water



A colorless, odorless compound of hydrogen and oxygen. Water covers about three-quarters of the Earth's surface in solid form (ice) and liquid form, and is prevalent in the lower atmosphere in its gaseous form, water vapor. Water is an unusually good solvent for a large variety of substances, and is an essential component of all organisms, being necessary for most biological processes. Unlike most substances, water is less dense as ice than in liquid form; thus, ice floats on liquid water. Water freezes at 0°C (32°F) and boils at 100°C (212°F). Chemical formula: H2O.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with water


In addition to the idioms beginning with water

  • water down
  • water over the dam

also see:

  • above water
  • backwater
  • blood is thicker than water
  • blow out (of the water)
  • come on in (the water's fine)
  • dead in the water
  • fish in troubled waters
  • fish out of water
  • head above water
  • hell or high water
  • high-water mark
  • hold water
  • hot water
  • in deep (water)
  • keep one's head (above water)
  • like water off a duck's back
  • make one's mouth water
  • muddy the waters
  • of the first water
  • pour cold water on
  • pour oil on troubled waters
  • still waters run deep
  • take to (like a duck to water)
  • throw out the baby with the bath water
  • tread water
  • you can lead a horse to water
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.