flash in the pan

noun phrase

Definition of flash in the pan

1 : a sudden spasmodic effort that accomplishes nothing
2 : one that appears promising but turns out to be disappointing or worthless

First Known Use of flash in the pan

1706, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for flash in the pan

from the firing of the priming in the pan of a flintlock musket without discharging the piece

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about flash in the pan

Time Traveler for flash in the pan

Time Traveler

The first known use of flash in the pan was in 1706

See more words from the same year

Statistics for flash in the pan

Cite this Entry

“Flash in the pan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/flash%20in%20the%20pan. Accessed 13 Jul. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on flash in the pan

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with flash in the pan

Comments on flash in the pan

What made you want to look up flash in the pan? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!