Go belly up


      • to fail or go bankrupt
        Refer to a business or venture that has gone bankrupt or is no longer functioning successfully

      • to collapse or die
        Describe a person or an animal that has fallen onto their back, often in a humorous or exaggerated manner

      • to give up or surrender
        Indicate a state of defeat or submission, often used in a negative or critical context

    Examples of Go belly up

    • The struggling company went belly up last month.

      To go belly up is to fail completely, especially financially. In this example, the company experienced complete financial failure and had to close down. The expression "belly up" refers to a fish that has died and is lying on its back with its belly exposed. This image is used to represent complete and utter failure.


    The idiom "go belly up" is commonly used to describe various forms of failure or defeat. In all cases, it implies a negative outcome or result. Whether it is a business going bankrupt, a person collapsing, or someone giving up, the phrase suggests a lack of success or accomplishment.

    This idiomatic expression is often used in a figurative sense, meaning that it is not to be taken literally. For example, when someone says "I'm going belly up," they are not actually going to physically fall onto their back. Instead, they are expressing their sense of defeat or disappointment in a particular situation.

    One interesting aspect of this idiom is that it can also be used in a more positive context. In some cases, "going belly up" may refer to someone giving up or surrendering in a situation that is ultimately for the best. For example, if someone is struggling with an addiction and they decide to "go belly up" and seek help, it could be seen as a positive and courageous decision.

    Origin of "Go belly up"

    The origin of the idiom "go belly up" is not entirely clear, but there are a few theories. One possible explanation is that it comes from the image of a dead fish floating on its back in water, with its belly facing upwards. This image could be used to describe a business or venture that has failed and is no longer functioning, similar to how the fish is no longer alive.

    Another theory suggests that the idiom originated from the practice of turning a dead horse onto its back in order to clean its hooves. In this context, "belly up" would refer to the horse being in a vulnerable position, similar to how a person or business may be vulnerable when facing failure.

    Regardless of its exact origin, the idiom "go belly up" has been in use since at least the mid-19th century. It is a colorful and playful way to describe various forms of failure, and its figurative use allows for a range of interpretations and nuances in meaning.