Generally speaking when someone says "you are in the swamps", what do they really mean to say? In other words in what kind of situation would someone use this phrase?


In response to a comment I am editing this question. Apologies for the late edit.

Backstory: I said to an individual that I have made peace with the fact that I just can't write code and I feel really bored because of this. He replied in that case you are in the swamps.

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    I probably would use it when I was on an airboat in the deep south surrounded by Spanish moss and alligators. Otherwise, never.
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 21:28
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    Yup - that about covers it. D_S, if you want a more detailed answer, please give us a more detailed question. Where did you find this expression? Who said it or wrote it? Do you have a link? Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 21:38
  • Never heard the phrase used. I have, though, heard quagmire used, as in, "you are in a real quagmire" meaning a difficult and complex situation where there is no clear solution. Quagmire is a synonym of swamp.
    – TomMcW
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 22:39
  • It is probably allied with expressions such as "bogged down," "stuck in the mire," and perhaps (in John Bunyan's phrase) "in the slough of despond."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 7:03
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    @D_S - Thanks for the additional information. My guess is that either he invented this phrase at the time he said it or that he comes from an area where there are swamps and it is a local saying. Where is he from? What it means will depend on even more context. Do you have to write code for your job? If so then it may be a euphemistic version of "then you are in the shit". I.e. you are in trouble. That accords with the answer by Josh61 Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


I think it refers to swamp in a figurative sense which means:

  • a situation or place fraught with difficulties and imponderables: a financial swamp. (AHD)
  • To be in the swamps probably refers to very difficult situations; to be in dire straights.
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    I agree. (@D_S, as per your edit) If it is your job to write code and you find yourself unable to do it, then this may be a euphemistic way of saying, "in that case you are in the shit." Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 8:11

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