Meaning of “tread water” in the English Dictionary

american-english dictionary

"tread water" in American English

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tread water

to float with your head above the water’s surface and your feet below you by moving your legs and arms up and down

To tread water is also to be active but without making progress or falling further behind:

Stock prices continued to tread water this week.

(Definition of “tread water” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)