Also found in: Thesaurus.
by the board Ruined, disregarded, forgotten; over and done with; literally, by or over a ship’s side, overboard; usually in the phrase go by the board. This expression comes from the nautical sense of board ‘the side of a ship.’ The phrase was used literally in its nautical sense as early as 1630 but did not appear in figurative usage until 1859.
down the drain Wasted, lost, gone. The phrase, in use since 1930, probably refers to the way liquid disappears down a drainpipe. A more recent variant, equally popular today, is down the tube. The extended expression pour down the drain denotes an unnecessary or extravagant waste of time or money.
lost in the wash Lost in the confused and chaotic jumble of events, proceedings, etc. Considered literally, this expression brings to mind the occasional but mysterious disappearance of various articles of clothing in automatic washing machines. In this expression, however, wash refers not to laundry but to a body of water, as it does in the following lines from Shakespeare’s King John:
I’ll tell thee, Hubert, half my power this night,
Passing these flats, are taken by the tide.
These Lincoln Washes have devoured them. (V,vi)
out the window Irretrievably lost or forfeited. The image conveyed by this American slang expression reinforces the idea of irretrievable loss, both of material possessions and emotional security, such as that provided by one’s career, reputation, and the like.
up the spout Pawned, in hock; ruined, lost, gone. In a pawnbroker’s shop the spout is the lift used to carry pawned items to an upper floor for storage. While the phrase was used literally as early as 1812, it did not appear in its figurative sense until 1853 in Dods’ Early Letters:
The fact is, Germany is up the spout, and consequently a damper is thrown over my hopes for next summer.