out of one's depth


a dimension taken through an object or body of material, usually downward from an upper surface, horizontally inward from an outer surface, or from top to bottom of something regarded as one of several layers.
the quality of being deep; deepness.
complexity or obscurity, as of a subject: a question of great depth.
gravity; seriousness.
emotional profundity: the depth of someone's feelings.
intensity, as of silence, color, etc.
lowness of tonal pitch: the depth of a voice.
the amount of knowledge, intelligence, wisdom, insight, feeling, etc., present in a person's mind or evident either in some product of the mind, as a learned paper, argument, work of art, etc., or in the person's behavior.
a high degree of such knowledge, insight, etc.
Often, depths. a deep part or place: from the depths of the ocean.
an unfathomable space; abyss: the depth of time.
Sometimes, depths. the farthest, innermost, or extreme part or state: the depth of space; the depths of the forest; the depths of despair.
Usually, depths. a low intellectual or moral condition: How could he sink to such depths?
the part of greatest intensity, as of night or winter.
Sports. the strength of a team in terms of the number and quality of its substitute players: With no depth in the infield, an injury to any of the regulars would be costly.
in depth, extensively or thoroughly: Make a survey in depth of the conditions.
out of/beyond one's depth,
in water deeper than one's height or too deep for one's safety.
beyond one's knowledge or capability: The child is being taught subjects that are beyond his depth.

1350–1400; Middle English depthe, equivalent to dep (Old English dēop deep) + -the -th1

depthless, adjective

2. shallowness. 9. superficiality.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
depth (dɛpθ)
1.  the extent, measurement, or distance downwards, backwards, or inwards
2.  the quality of being deep; deepness
3.  intensity or profundity of emotion or feeling
4.  profundity of moral character; penetration; sagacity; integrity
5.  complexity or abstruseness, as of thought or objects of thought
6.  intensity, as of silence, colour, etc
7.  lowness of pitch
8.  nautical the distance from the top of a ship's keel to the top of a particular deck
9.  (often plural) a deep, far, inner, or remote part, such as an inaccessible region of a country
10.  (often plural) the deepest, most intense, or most severe part: the depths of winter
11.  (usually plural) a low moral state; demoralization: how could you sink to such depths?
12.  (often plural) a vast space or abyss
13.  beyond one's depth, out of one's depth
 a.  in water deeper than one is tall
 b.  beyond the range of one's competence or understanding
14.  in depth See also in-depth thoroughly or comprehensively
[C14: from depdeep + -th1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., apparently formed in M.E. on model of length, breadth; from O.E. deop "deep" (see deep), replacing older deopnes "deepness." Corresponds to O.N. dypð, Goth. diupiþa.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

depth (děpth)
The extent, measurement, or dimension downward, backward, or inward.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

out of one's depth

Also, beyond one's depth. Outside one's understanding or competence, as in He was out of his depth in that advanced calculus class, or The conductor realized that playing the fugue at the right tempo was beyond their depth. This expression alludes to being in water so deep that one might sink. [c. 1600] Also see over one's head.

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