Slang dictionary

let that sink in

[ let that singk in ]

What does let that sink in mean?

Let that sink in is an idiom used immediately after a statement to urge that it be properly considered so that it can be fully understood and appreciated.

Example: The team has lost 56 games in a row and there are only 12 games in a season. Let that sink in.

When someone uses the phrase, it typically indicates that they think the information they have just communicated is extremely surprising, interesting, or consequential.

In the expression, the verb phrase sink in means “to enter or penetrate the mind.” Someone who lets a statement sink in spends some time “absorbing” it in order to consider it and its implications. The term likens the mind to a sponge soaking in information before being able to process it.

Apart from its use as a kind of command, the phrase let that sink in can also be used in statements about a person (or oneself) following such a command, as in I told my parents that I was planning to backpack across Europe, and I let that sink in before I asked for some money for the trip.

Related words

in the same vein, the proof is in the pudding, I said what I said, coming down the pike, up to snuff

Where does let that sink in come from?

man in glasses thinking

The idiom let that sink in has always been used to emphasize shocking or interesting statements. It uses the phrasal verb sink in, meaning “to enter or penetrate the mind”—likening the mind to a sponge that can soak up information. Both sink in and let that sink in have been used since at least the late 1800s.

In the 2010s, the phrase let that sink in came to be used as the basis of a meme featuring some kind of statement paired with an image of a bathroom or kitchen sink at a doorway, thus creating a visual pun on the phrase let that sink in.

Examples of let that sink in

Every "C" in Pacific Ocean is pronounced differently... let that sink in
@Mishalriiaz, February 2022
The Philadelphia Phillies now sit 17 games above .500 after a 6-0 shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday evening. Let that sink in for a moment.
Kade Kistner, Sports Illustrated, August 2022

Who uses let that sink in?

Let that sink in is a commonly used idiom. It’s typically used to emphasize a statement considered extremely surprising, interesting, or consequential.

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