Hold Water

Meaning of Idiom ‘Hold Water, to’

To hold water means to be correct, valid, sound, or reasonable and to stand up to scrutiny.

This idiom has many synonyms or near-synonyms such as hold upcarry weightstack upairtight, etc.

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The idiom and its synonyms or near-synonyms are most often used in the negative. For example, “his explanation does not hold water” means that his explanation is flawed in some way or simply false.

Examples Of Use

“The police found that the suspect’s alibi did not hold water.”

“The excuses you use in high school will not hold water in college.”

Hold Water Idiom Meaning


Used since the 1600’s, the idiom alludes figuratively to a container that cannot hold water and thus is useless. When an argument “has holes in it” the same allusion is suggested. As well, the related idiom “Swiss-cheese argument” refers to an argument with holes in it and thus one that “does not hold water.”

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