"Beer bottle" is a Korean idiom for a poor swimmer. You could express it as 저는 물에서 맥주병입니다 which would translate literally to "I, in water, am a beer bottle."

The phrase obviously derives from the behavior of a beer bottle when thrown into water: It bobs at first, but once water gets in its mouth it sinks quickly to the bottom. Is there a similarly colorful expression for a bad swimmer in English?

I tried searching on the web, but the most common translation offered is "I swim like a rock." which is not quite the same image.

  • I'm not sure about a similar expression, but you could say something like "I swim like a beer bottle in water," and follow it up with your explanation, "bobbing at first and then filling with water before sinking to the bottom." It'd be a unique expression, so you might follow it up with "It's a Korean expression" when someone compliments you for being so colorful.
    – Adam
    Feb 20, 2013 at 20:55
  • 3
    It seems you've answered your own question. The nearest idiom to 저는 물에서 맥주병입니다 in English is "I swim like a rock."
    – Matt
    Feb 20, 2013 at 21:08
  • In general, I suspect that looking for an idiom in language A that means EXACTLY the same thing as an idiom in language B is probably unproductive. You can translate the idiom and (if you do it well) your speech will be considered picturesque, you can say what you want to say literally, or you can look for the closest idiom in the target language.
    – Jay
    Apr 5, 2013 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


He swims like a brick (or like a stone).

There is no well-known idiomatic English usage alluding to the way bottles fill up in choppy waters - our metaphors all focus on things that are inherently heavier than water, and therefore sink immediately.

  • +1. You can also say someone "Sinks like a stone" and get the same meaning; the fact that they must have been in water to sink is implied.
    – WendiKidd
    Feb 21, 2013 at 3:38

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