flash in the pan

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n flash in the pan someone who enjoys transient success but then fails
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • flash in the pan a failure or a poor performance, especially after a normal or auspicious start; also, a person whose initial performance appears augur success but who fails to achieve anything notable. From 4th pan n., sense 3 -- part of a flintlock. Occasionally, the powder in the pan of a flintlock would flash without conveying the fire to the charge, and the ball would fail to be discharged. Thus, a good or even spectacular beginning that eventually achieves little came to be called a flash in the pan.
    • Flash in the pan See under Flash.
    • Flash in the pan the flashing of the priming in the pan of a flintlock musket without discharging the piece; hence, sudden, spasmodic effort that accomplishes nothing.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Flash in the pan to flash and go out suddenly, not igniting the charge—of the powder in the pan of a flint-lock firearm: to fail after a fitful effort, to give up without accomplishing anything
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Idioms

Flash in the pan - If something is a flash in the pan, it is very noticeable but doesn't last long, like most singers, who are very successful for a while, then forgotten.
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Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. panne—prob. through the Celt., from Low L. panna—L. patina, a basin.

Usage

In literature:

It flashed in the pan, but they both galloped off, and did not return.
"Travels in North America, From Modern Writers" by William Bingley
This may be jest a flash in the pan, a grass-root outcrop.
"Rimrock Trail" by J. Allan Dunn
And according to Donovan here, it's not just a flash in the pan, either.
"Bert Wilson on the Gridiron" by J. W. Duffield
But the hilarity was only a flash in the pan.
"The Innocent Adventuress" by Mary Hastings Bradley
New York's too big for you fellows; I guess you were only a flash in the pan!
"Alex the Great" by H. C. Witwer
As an armed insurrection it was only a flash in the pan.
"The Fathers of Confederation" by A. H. U. Colquhoun
But, after all, what a flash-in-the-pan it was!
"God and Mr. Wells" by William Archer
However, I dare say it's only a flash in the pan, and she'll be off after somebody else.
"When Ghost Meets Ghost" by William Frend De Morgan
He took aim, but the rifle flashed in the pan.
"Boys' Book of Frontier Fighters" by Edwin L. Sabin
But the gun only flashed in the pan.
"Boys' Book of Indian Warriors" by Edwin L. Sabin
The alarm was premature, the rising a flash in the pan.
"Romantic Spain" by John Augustus O'Shea
But the powder only flashed in the pan.
"The Men of the Moss-Hags" by S. R. Crockett
Thornhill did not like that word, and it was no mere flash in the pan either.
"The White Hand and the Black" by Bertram Mitford
It was by flashing powder in the pan.
"Harper's Round Table, June 4, 1895" by Various
The devil a more ye 'd he doing I guessed nor making a flash in the pan!
"Jack Hinton The Guardsman" by Charles James Lever
The third would have done for me had not his priming flashed in the pan.
"A Volunteer with Pike" by Robert Ames Bennet
His pistol cracked and an assailant tumbled on his face, while the flash in the pan revealed that he had already an ally.
"The Firebrand" by S. R. Crockett
It flashed in the pan.
"Donalblane of Darien" by J. Macdonald Oxley
In the matter of the arrest, I delay my fire; I do not flash in the pan, but I lengthen my fuse.
"One-Act Plays" by Various
Perhaps that had been no more than a flash in the pan, but the fans wanted to see for themselves.
"Lefty Locke Pitcher-Manager" by Burt L. Standish
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In poetry:

One charge is a remnant of College-day dreams
(Its wadding is made of forensics and themes);
Ah, visions of fame! what a flash in the pan
As the trigger was pulled by each clever young man!
"Once More" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

In news:

Mobile Communications Game Changer or Flash in the Pan .
Controversy's effect on restaurant is just flash in the pan .
Flash in the Pan archives.
Flash in the pan or beginning of a movement.
Flash Beach Grill is more than a flash in the pan .
Ari LeVaux writes Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column that has appeared in more than 50 newspapers in 21 states.
The company that changed it--bringing us into the Internet age--was a brilliant flash in the pan called Netscape .
She's no flash in the pan.
The New York Knicks failed to match the Houston Rockets' offer sheet to flash-in-the-pan point guard Jeremy Lin last night, scared off by the odd contract structure that the Rockets were able to put on the table.
Sure we know Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson are making ends meet, but can American Idol flash-in-the-pans save up a fortune, even when the fame is oh so fleeting.
In many respects, the late Mr Warhol was quite correct with the passing parade of flash-in-the-pan "celebrities".
It's still too early to tell whether Nick Foles is a franchise quarterback or a flash in the pan.
When the Killers first arrived on the scene, I wrote them off as little more than a glitzy flash in the pan out of Vegas, a band obsessed with the hooks and sounds of '80s bands.
Gold Rush Or Flash In The Pan.
There wasn't a lot of movement in this week's power rankings, but we are starting to learn more and more each week about which teams will stick around and which teams are only a flash in the pan.
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