The idiom let that sink in is an expression used all around the world in multiple different contexts. From factual discussions to argumentative notions or just as slang language for the most trivial things, this phrase is an English staple for quite a lot. If you are unfamiliar with what the phrase is and how it is used, this article is for you.
Origin and meaning:
The origin of this phrase lies in a metaphor. It’s a known fact that a ship takes a while to sink into the water and does so slowly and gradually at its own pace. Similar to this “let that sink in” is simply letting information slowly sink in one’s brain so it can be understood better. To expand on this, let that sink in is to take time and process any kind of information and understand what it really means.
- The sentence is used after making an astonishing point to emphasize the importance of the subject matter. It also reflects a process of sorts where it is an indication to the listener or reader to take a few moments to grasp and understand what is being expressed.
For example: The sun is 400 times the size of the moon and the moon is 400 times closer to earth than the sun. Let that sink in.
- Let that sink is quite often used by academics in reference to them ending a lesson or a topic and giving their students a moment to take it all in.
For example: With this, we end chapter two of this subject. Please take a moment to let that sink in and then we can begin with the exercises.
- Another common usage of the term is when a shocking fact is said and the reader or speaker wants people to reflect on this information with respect to what they already know about it.
For example: Do you know there are more tigers being killed in the world than being reported in the media? Yes, let that sink in.
- While giving out a new piece of information or resharing an existing piece of information, this phrase is often used to emphasize on it so that people take it more seriously.
For example: Since we are talking about this, Billie Eilish is the youngest person to receive multiple grammys at the age of 18. Let that sink in.
- The phrase is also used in various personal conversations to highlight something shocking, something being done for the first time or just something happening that needs time to grasp.
For example: Despite my fear of heights, I bungee jumped from a bridge. Let that sink in for a moment.
- The idiom is a long time friend of people who use a lot of quotes, books, movies, speeches and popular people as references. In this context, the idiom is used for people to understand these words, their deeper meanings and how they apply to us, others around us or the current situation we are living in.
For example: Paulo Coelho once said “Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?”. Let that sink in and don’t hesitate to make your decision about following your passions.
- The most common usage of this term these days is on the internet to practically share any fact in existence. Quite often people use it to emphasize their point usually in an argument or discussion to make their point stand out as an immensely important one that requires everyone to take a moment and understand it. While most of these are general trivia facts that may not need the phrase to be used alongside, a lot of these are just pieces of news that a lot of people may find hard to digest.
Some more examples:
This phrase is not a very formal one and hence you would hear people using it every few sentences to make a more serious point. “Let that sink in” has now been adapted by the likes of the newer generations, the plethora of social media users and the slang speakers who have discovered multiple more contexts this idiom can be used to make a point.
Some more examples that demonstrate the use of this idiom are:
- As of now, Joe Biden is considered a felon in Ukraine. Let that sink in.
- In some schools around the world, parents are being fined if they refuse to send their kids to schools. Let that sink in for a moment. I can’t believe we live in a world where parents can be fined for not risking their child’s health by sending them to school.
- People born in the year 2000 will all be turning 21 this year. Let that sink in.
- It is about to be a year since the worldwide lockdowns. Lets let that sink in for a while because time flies so fast.
- Three weeks ago bitcoin was below $20k. Let that sink in.
- Taylor Swift released a surprise full album in December 2020 and still managed to chart all her songs on the billboard hot 100 chart. Wow, let that sink in.
- I just studied math for 6 hours at a stretch. I need to take an even longer break to let that all sink in.
- I drove a car without crashing into any walls this time. Let that sink in mom.
With the widespread use of this idiom, it is important to understand that excessive use of it can ruin the information or the context. Hence reading the situation and narrowing down on occasions where one can or should positively use the phrase makes it easier for people to understand and let that sink in well.