at sea

Idioms & Phrases

at sea

  1. Aboard a ship, on the ocean, as in Within a few hours the ship would be out at sea. During World War II a famous American newscaster addressed his radio broadcasts to listeners everywhere, including "all the ships at sea." [1300s]

  2. Also, all at sea. Perplexed, bewildered, as in She was all at sea in these new surroundings. This idiom transfers the condition of a vessel that has lost its bearings to the human mind. Charles Dickens used it in Little Dorrit (1855): "Mrs. Tickit ... was so plainly at sea on this part of the case." [Second half of 1700s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: at risk
Next Definition: at second hand
Words Near: at sea
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for at sea
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing at sea
More from Dictionary.com Translator
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature