desert a sinking ship

Idioms & Phrases

desert a sinking ship

Abandon a failing enterprise before it is too late. For example, After seeing the company's financial statement, he knew it was time to desert a sinking ship. This metaphoric expression alludes to rats, which leave a vessel when it founders in a storm or runs aground so as to escape drowning. It was transferred to human behavior by about 1600.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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