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head above water, keep one's

Stay out of trouble, especially financial difficulties; also, keep up with work or other demands. For example, With new bills coming in every day they're barely keeping their heads above water, or The work's piling up, but I manage to keep my head above water. This expression alludes to keeping oneself from drowning. [ Early 1700s ]
Also see: in deep
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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