keep your head above water


1. avoid being overcome by a difficult situation






Check Icon How to Memorize

I'm barely earning enough to keep my head above water

Check Icon Analysis

If you 'keep your head above water' in a literal sense, it means you avoid being consumed by water or drowning. Figuratively, therefore, this expression means to avoid being consumed by a difficult situation, particularly one related to work or finances. The term evokes a sense of desperation, and is similar to the phrases 'stay afloat' and 'make ends meet.' It is commonly used in both a social and professional context.

Check Icon Social Examples (Basic)

  1. I'm in a terrible state financially. My credit card is the only thing keeping my head above water.
  2. If our rent goes up I don't know how we will keep our head above water.
  3. Widespread job losses mean that many families in the area are struggling to keep their heads above water and pay their bills.

Check Icon Professional Examples (Basic)

  1. I need to ask my boss for a raise. I'm barely earning enough at the moment to keep my head above water.
  2. There's so much work that needs to be done before the deadline that it is swamping me. Without help, I don't think I'll be able to keep my head above water.

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