of the Week: flash in the pan (noun phrase)
Something (or someone) that starts out with promise, but goes nowhere
At the beginning of her career, many critics predicted that Madonna
would just be a flash in the pan, but she has proved
"You have to understand, Frank Bruno would not have been champion
if I had not been in prison. Oliver McCall would not have been champion
if I had not been in prison… They'd be a flash in the pan
and would have made some money and opened up a restaurant or
bar somewhere where they live at."
-Boxer Mike Tyson
Though it might sound like
a cooking reference, flash in the pan refers to gunpowder
that explodes in the pan of an old-fashioned flintlock rifle, but doesn’t
set the charge, so the gun doesn’t shoot. American slang has a number
of similar expressions related to unsuccessful weapons.
For example, in Standard English,
blanks are gun cartridges without bullets used for shoot-outs in movies.
In slang, for a man to shoot blanks can mean that he
is unsuccessful in the bedroom, or simply unsuccessful in getting his
wife pregnant. And in World War I, a dud was a bomb that
didn’t explode. Now, a dud is now something that
fails, like a bad date or Gigli (sorry, J Lo fans). Unlike a flash
in the pan, a dud doesn't usually look like
it’s going to be successful at first.
If you live in the US, and have a reasonable amount of curiosity, now
you are probably wondering how the popular candy Milk Duds got
its name. Was it a failure? Apparently so. According to the Hershey’s
website, they called them duds because they failed to
come out perfectly round. Perhaps not the best advertising strategy, but
people buy them anyway.
new at Slang City?
"I think you better quit, letting shit slip, or you'll be leaving
with a fat lip..." Nice threats from Limp Bizkit in He
Said She Said translated in MUSIC. Warning: contains bad words!