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  1. VIP Member
    Student or Learner
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    a flash in the pan

    Dear teachers,

    Would you tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    Of course it’s only a flash in the pan. .. She’ll never write anything else. (Maugham’s “Complete Short Stories”)

    a flash in the pan = an unsuccessful attempt

    Thank you for your efforts.



  2. Senior Member
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    Re: a flash in the pan

    No, a flash in the pan is a one-off success, a short-lived success. But success! Bright for a moment, then gone.

    He is saying she has written something good, but in his opinion, she won't be able to do so again.

  3. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
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    Re: a flash in the pan

    Think of the expression's origin in old muzzle-loading fire-arms. Having loaded his weapon, the user had to fill a pan with gunpowder, which when lit exploded and - ideally - lit the main charge in the gun barrel. If it didn't, you just got 'a flash in the pan' - noise, and a flash, not achieving very much.


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