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An excerpt from Tuesdays with Morrie:

“You know how I’m going to die?” he said. I raised my eyebrows. “I’m going to suffocate. Yes. My lungs, because of my asthma, can’t handle the disease. It’s moving up my body, this ALS. It’s already got my legs. Pretty soon it’ll get my arms and hands. And when it hits my lungs … He shrugged his shoulders. “… I’m sunk.” I had no idea what to say, so I said, “Well, you know, I mean … you never know.” Morrie closed his eyes. “I know, Mitch. You mustn’t be afraid of my dying. I’ve had a good life, and we all know it’s going to happen. I maybe have four or five months.” Come on, I said nervously. Nobody can say.

What does I'm sunk mean?

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This is the passive participle of the verb sink, which literally means to make something sink in water, usually through the use of a firearm in combat. Figuratively it means to go down, lose, get into trouble, etc. as a consequence of something.

This is a common way of predicting someone's demise, death, defeat, etc. by already pronouncing them as such in the present. For example, a child breaks something while his parents are out and says: I'm dead! Obviously, he's not (figuratively) dead yet, however he is announcing what he considers the unavoidable consequence of his actions by pronouncing himself dead in the present.

Similar expressions used in this way are:

I'm dead

I'm sunk

I'm a goner [>gone]

I'm finished

I'm done for

I'm history

I'm screwed

I'm fucked

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    I agree with that, but in addition there is an image of the guy slowly sinking into the disease. It is rising up his body, and it will eventually suffocate him, just as if he were sinking into water. – Dangph Jul 27 '14 at 19:19

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