What does "leaks like a sieve" mean? – when something isn't reliable

"Leaks like a sieve" means that something that should hold a liquid does not work properly.

"Leaks like a sieve" means that something that should hold a liquid does not work properly.

What does “leaks like a sieve” mean?   To answer that question, first let’s explain the meaning of a “sieve“.

A “sieve” is strainer or colander, a kitchen device that has many small holes and that is used to separate smaller particles from larger ones or solids from liquids.

Suppose you are cooking dumplings (饺子).  You’d use a sieve to remove the dumpling from the pot and drain any liquid.

A sieve is not supposed to hold liquid.   When it works properly, it leaks.

There are times when we want something to retain a liquid or hold back something, but we say that it “leaks like a sieve” as a slang to indicate that it isn’t working properly.

A couple of examples will illustrate the meaning of “leaks like a sieve”.

Example:  ”It’s raining cats and dogs outside, and my roof now leaks like a sieve.  I’ll need to fix it!”

“People who say that there are too many illegal immigrants from Mexico claim that the US-Mexican border leaks like a sieve.”

Now it is your turn.   Try using “leaks like a sieve” in a sentence of your own creation and leave your work in the comment section.  I’ll be happy to provide feedback.

Is there a slang phrase in Chinese like “leaks like a sieve”?

VOCABULARY

  • colander – a kitchen straining device.   Used to hold solid food which was cooked in boiled.
  • dumpling – a food similar to 饺子.  It has some sort of outer dough-like wrapper with some sort of filling inside.
  • retain – to keep or hold
  • immigrant – a foreign person who moves to another nation.

 

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Comments

  1. frank panda says:

    the Chinese for leaks like a sieve is “漏得跟筛子似的”,however which seems not very commonly used in daily conversation,because it is not an idiom or common phrase.
    you might say:”It’s raining cats and dogs outside, and my roof now leaks like a sieve”,but we prefer”屋外下大雨,屋内下小雨”.but when it comes to Chinese soccer,I might say”defense looked soft and the offensive line leaked like a sieve” :-)

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