Doesn’t hold water

Doesn’t hold water is an idiom that has been in use since the 1600s. We will examine the meaning of the common saying doesn’t hold water, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Doesn’t hold water describes an argument or narrative that is not logical, does not make sense, is not reasonable, or is not true. For instance, if a child tells his teacher that his dog ate his homework, the teacher may believe that his excuse doesn’t hold water. The expression doesn’t hold water has been in use to express skepticism in the face of an argument or narrative since the 1600s. The image is one of a bucket or other vessel that leaks and does not fulfill the use it was intended for.


One of the purported benefits of implementing a shot clock into high school basketball is that it will prepare athletes for what they’ll see in college, but that argument doesn’t hold water considering the minute percentage of high school athletes who actually wind up playing college basketball. (The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

“But just like claims of voter fraud in this election, the claims that this bill is going to cause financial hardship to cities and counties doesn’t hold water.” (The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Cuomo and other governors say Trump’s argument doesn’t hold water since there are no guidelines to make sure hard-hit states are given preference without the Defense Production Act in place. (New York Daily News)