20 Idioms That Describe Failures

Failures are an inevitable part of life, providing valuable lessons and opportunities for growth. Understanding idioms that describe failures can help you better express and relate to these experiences. Here are 20 idioms that convey the essence of failures, each with a short meaning and example sentence.

20 Idioms That Describe Failures

1. Fall Flat

Meaning: Fail completely
Example: His joke fell flat with the audience.

2. Miss the Boat

Meaning: Miss an opportunity
Example: She missed the boat on that investment.

3. Strike Out

Meaning: Fail at something
Example: He struck out trying to get a promotion.

4. Bite the Dust

Meaning: Fail or die
Example: Many startups bite the dust quickly.

5. Crash and Burn

Meaning: Fail spectacularly
Example: His business plan crashed and burned.

6. Go Down in Flames

Meaning: Fail spectacularly
Example: The project went down in flames.

7. Hit a Brick Wall

Meaning: Encounter an insurmountable obstacle
Example: Their negotiations hit a brick wall.

8. Come to Grief

Meaning: Meet with failure
Example: The new policy came to grief.

9. Go Belly Up

Meaning: Fail financially
Example: The company went belly up last year.

10. Fall by the Wayside

Meaning: Fail to persist
Example: Many new ideas fall by the wayside.

11. Meet Your Waterloo

Meaning: Suffer a decisive defeat
Example: The team met their Waterloo in the finals.

12. Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Meaning: Cause one’s own failure
Example: He shot himself in the foot by lying.

13. Come Up Short

Meaning: Fail to achieve
Example: They came up short in the competition.

14. Bite the Bullet

Meaning: Accept failure
Example: He bit the bullet and admitted defeat.

15. Drop the Ball

Meaning: Fail to act
Example: She dropped the ball on the project deadline.

16. Come Unstuck

Meaning: Fail disastrously
Example: The plan came unstuck at the last minute.

17. Hit the Skids

Meaning: Decline rapidly
Example: His career hit the skids after the scandal.

18. End in Tears

Meaning: End in disappointment
Example: The experiment ended in tears.

19. Hit a Dead End

Meaning: Reach a point of no progress
Example: Their investigation hit a dead end.

20. Be a Dead Duck

Meaning: Certain to fail
Example: The proposal was a dead duck from the start.

Idioms That Describe Failures

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