Posted by: Dutch | March 5, 2010

Flash in the pan

Meaning

Something that shows great promise, then disappoints by being over too quickly.

Example

Ross Perot’s political career turned out to be a flash in the pan.

Origin

Flintlock muskets have small pans to hold the gunpowder fuse. Sometimes the gunpowder in the pan would flare up without firing the gun. That would be a “flash in the pan”.

Alternatively,

Derives from the early gold prospectors who would literally see a flash of light as they panned for gold, but who would often fail to find the nuggets on closer inspection. See the related expression “pan out”.

–  Thanks to Nina Zhito

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