to gradually die (literally or figuratively)
When Dan started telling the girl at the bar that he lived in a barn with 3 sheep, 2 horses, and his parents, his chances of beating it up that night started circling the drain.
by Nick D September 25, 2003
"A service economy that doesn't produce anything will circle the drain until it has spent all of it's savings (wealth)."
A productive economy produces wealth because they have something to sell that the rest of the world wants. When a country no longer produces anything, and simply spends money feeding one-another at fast food places, buying foriegn oil and toys, they are only spending savings until it's all gone and the economy will circle the drain. Spending money on bullets doesn't help either, but mostly a failing economy can be characterized by asking if any money is flowing into the country. If the answer is no, down we go.
by J. D. Short November 03, 2007
To meander, undirected towards an inevitable destination.
The conference call began with the usual decorum. However, after the first agenda item was introduced, the team began to circle the drain and wasted the entire hour and $1500 telecommunication fees, debating the necessity of the Risk Management Department.
by CW November 25, 2003