flash in the pan


a flash in the pan

Meaning | Definition

  • something that cannot be repeated, usually a positive concept
  • success which lasts only for a little while and cannot be achieved again
  • something that is briefly successful
  • something that is promising in the beginning but fizzles out later
  • something that shows potential initially, but fails to deliver in the end
  • a sudden but brief success which is not repeated
  • something that happens for a short time and is not repeated
  • a showy beginning followed by a disappointing failure

Example Sentences

  1. His initial good performances were a mere flash in the pan. Nowadays, he delivers only mediocre work.
  2. The success of his second book turned out to be a flash in the pan. All his other books have been junked by all and termed as trash.
  3. This new wave of entrepreneurship is not just a flash in the pan. More and more people are quitting their day jobs in order to start their own ventures.
  4. He showed great promise during his first few games, but it turned out to be a flash in the pan.
  5. The invention turned out to be a flash in the pan and is no longer in demand.
  6. The season finale was a flash in the pan, else for the rest of the episodes, we barely even watched it.
  7. Unfortunately the high scores in the exam for my nephew was just a flash in the pan.
  8. I understand that the sales peak this time were a flash in the pan and that we may not be able to achieve such numbers again but let’s at least work towards realistic targets.
  9. His business idea was just a flash in the pan and cannot be used now since the effects of the demonetization have worn out.


The phrase originates from flintlock muskets, which had a small pan to hold a charge of gunpowder from the time when flintlock firearms were popular. This charge was used to ignite the main charge when the musket was fired. When an attempt to fire the musket resulted in the gunpowder flaring up without the bullet being fired, it was called a flash in the pan. It would be known as a ‘flash in the pan’ if the fire in the arms could not get through to be able to ignite the charge but the coruscation caused some noise and smoke but no other actual effect. The phrase refers to a short and ineffective spasmodic effect that does not last for more than one attempt. The explosion in the case of the firearm would not go beyond the priming in the lock pan and does not set off the gun.


  • fluff in the pan

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