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Thread: idiom

  1. #1
    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Default idiom

    hi,

    is there an idiom in English that expresses the idea of failing completely when trying to accomplish something?

    thanks,
    jc

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    Default Re: idiom

    Hi JC

    the closest idiom in meaning I can find is,

    Back to square one - means to not succeed in something one was trying to do and having to start all over again.

    " They were not successful in their efforts to raise money for a new hospital wing. Now they are back to square one."

    Deborah ESL Tutor

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    Default Re: idiom

    There are many, many.

    He fell flat on his face.
    He crashed and burned.
    He bombed.
    He made a mess of it.
    He tried, but it was a total fiasco.

    Any of these expression would need some context to make sense. Like most idioms you'll hear, they are informal.

    "He screwed up" is pretty well accepted nowadays in Canada, I don't know whether it's safe to use this expression in other parts of the world; some might consider it vulgar.

    These are the first ones that come to my mind. I hope others will provide more, especially British expressions.

    edward
    Quote Originally Posted by jctgf View Post
    hi,

    is there an idiom in English that expresses the idea of failing completely when trying to accomplish something?

    thanks,
    jc

  4. #4
    jctgf is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: idiom

    Quote Originally Posted by baqarah131 View Post
    There are many, many.

    He fell flat on his face.
    He crashed and burned.
    He bombed.
    He made a mess of it.
    He tried, but it was a total fiasco.

    Any of these expression would need some context to make sense. Like most idioms you'll hear, they are informal.

    "He screwed up" is pretty well accepted nowadays in Canada, I don't know whether it's safe to use this expression in other parts of the world; some might consider it vulgar.

    These are the first ones that come to my mind. I hope others will provide more, especially British expressions.

    edward

    hi,

    "He fell flat on his face." is almost a perfect translation of an idiom we have in Portuguese. is it safe and nice (non-aggressive) to use?


    thanks,
    jc

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    Default Re: idiom

    "He fell flat on his face" is not something you'd use by itself. You'd be telling a story or explaining a situation. Whether the expression is rude or aggressive depends on the context. But I think it's normally a bit scornful. Certainly it's informal, colloquial.
    regards
    edward

  6. #6
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: idiom

    An idiom for informal contexts is "he made a complete pig's ear of it".

    Such a situation could also be described as one of "abject failure".

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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    Default Re: idiom

    This expression is new to me, though I have heard the sarcastic reply "in a pig's ear", meaning "I don't believe you."
    I like the idea of specifying that your first language is British English. I'll see if I can modify my profile to flag my English as North American. There are, of course, many differences.
    regards during this holiday season
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    An idiom for informal contexts is "he made a complete pig's ear of it".

    Such a situation could also be described as one of "abject failure".

    MrP

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    Default Re: idiom

    Quote Originally Posted by baqarah131 View Post
    This expression is new to me, though I have heard the sarcastic reply "in a pig's ear", meaning "I don't believe you."
    I like the idea of specifying that your first language is British English. I'll see if I can modify my profile to flag my English as North American. There are, of course, many differences.
    regards during this holiday season
    edward
    Edward, I like your suggestion about including 'North American English' in your online profile. I just changed my profile! Thanks for the suggestion!

    Cheers,
    Amigos4

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    Default Re: idiom

    Quote Originally Posted by amigos4 View Post
    Edward, I like your suggestion about including 'North American English' in your online profile. I just changed my profile! Thanks for the suggestion!

    Cheers,
    Amigos4
    Edward, I also added my home city. My Tucson accent is much different than the Boston accent that I developed as a child!

    Cheers,
    Amigos4

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    Default Re: idiom

    Good point.
    Other than Newfoundland, I think Canadian English is fairly uniform. I can think of only minor differences between Vancouver, where I grew up, the prairies, where I lived as an adult, and Ontario, where I've lived the last seven years.
    I'd be interested to know if you agree that Canadian English is fairly uniform.

    happy new year
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by amigos4 View Post
    Edward, I also added my home city. My Tucson accent is much different than the Boston accent that I developed as a child!

    Cheers,
    Amigos4

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