Posted by Henry on August 25, 2003
In Reply to: 'dead in the water', again posted by GPP on August 25, 2003
: : : I posted a question only a couple of days ago, but it's already disappearing out of sight down the page, with no responses to date: Can anyone help me with the provenance of the phrase 'dead in the water' (which pretty soon could be applied to the question itself)?
: : Some of us look at every new post. When a question gets no answer, it's often because nobody here knows its answer. That probably happened this time.
: Yeah, that's what I was afraid of, and why I added my parenthetical remark. I gave the same answer myself to someone else's repeated question a week or so ago. But I like EAH's suggestion, above this response. (I have to say I'm not one of those who read all new posts, though--only the ones that seem intriguing.)
I think it has a naval origin. A disabled warship is 'dead in the water'. By extension, anything out of action is too.