Top 20 Slang For Unsuccessful – Meaning & Usage

When it comes to describing a lack of success, language can be a powerful tool. Whether you’re feeling a bit down on your luck or just need a new way to express setbacks, our team has got you covered. We’ve scoured the depths of slang to bring you a list of the most creative and relatable slang terms for being unsuccessful. Get ready to add some flair to your vocabulary and commiserate with others who have been in the same boat!

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1. Flop

A term used to describe something that is a complete failure or disappointment. It can refer to a movie, song, performance, or any other endeavor that did not meet expectations.

  • For example, “The new movie was a flop at the box office, earning only a fraction of its production budget.”
  • A person might say, “I tried to bake a cake, but it turned out to be a flop. It was burnt and tasted terrible.”
  • In a sports context, someone might comment, “The team’s strategy was a flop. They lost the game by a large margin.”

2. Bomb

This term refers to something that is a complete failure or disaster. It is often used to describe a performance, event, or product that did not meet expectations or was poorly received.

  • For instance, “The comedian’s jokes fell flat and the audience considered his performance a bomb.”
  • A person might say, “The new restaurant received terrible reviews and quickly became a bomb.”
  • In a business context, someone might comment, “The marketing campaign was a bomb. It failed to generate any interest or sales.”

3. Bust

This term is used to describe something that is a complete failure or disappointment. It can refer to a business venture, project, or any other endeavor that did not succeed as expected.

  • For example, “The startup company was a bust, failing to attract investors and customers.”
  • A person might say, “I spent hours studying for the exam, but it was a bust. I failed to pass.”
  • In a fashion context, someone might comment, “The new clothing line was a bust. It did not sell well and was quickly discontinued.”

4. Tank

To “tank” means to fail or perform poorly. It can refer to a sports team, individual performance, or any other situation where someone or something fails to meet expectations.

  • For instance, “The team tanked in the playoffs, losing every game.”
  • A person might say, “I tanked the interview. I was so nervous that I couldn’t answer the questions properly.”
  • In a business context, someone might comment, “The product launch tanked. Sales were far below projections.”

5. Fizzle

When something fizzles, it means it fails to achieve the desired outcome or lacks success. It can refer to a plan, event, or any other situation that does not live up to expectations.

  • For example, “The party fizzled when most of the guests left early.”
  • A person might say, “I tried to start a conversation, but it fizzled. The other person wasn’t interested.”
  • In a technological context, someone might comment, “The new gadget fizzled in the market. It didn’t attract enough buyers and quickly became obsolete.”

6. Dud

This term is used to describe something that is a complete failure or disappointment. It can refer to a person, an object, or an event that did not meet expectations.

  • For example, “The movie was a dud, with terrible acting and a predictable plot.”
  • A person might say, “I thought the new restaurant would be great, but the food was a dud.”
  • In a discussion about technology, someone might comment, “The new smartphone turned out to be a dud, with numerous software issues.”

7. Washout

This term refers to a person or thing that has failed to meet expectations or succeed in a particular endeavor. It can also describe a situation or event that did not go as planned.

  • For instance, “He was a washout as a professional athlete, never achieving the success he had hoped for.”
  • A person might say, “The party was a washout, with hardly any guests showing up.”
  • In a conversation about job interviews, someone might mention, “I had a washout of an interview, stumbling over my words and failing to impress the interviewer.”

8. Misfire

This term is often used to describe a situation where something does not work or operate as intended. It can refer to mechanical devices, plans, or attempts that do not achieve the desired result.

  • For example, “The engine misfired, causing the car to sputter and stall.”
  • A person might say, “My attempt to bake a cake misfired, and it ended up burnt and inedible.”
  • In a discussion about business strategies, someone might mention, “The marketing campaign misfired, failing to attract the target audience.”

9. Flunk

This term is commonly used to describe failing a test, exam, or academic course. It can also be used more broadly to indicate a general failure or lack of success in any endeavor.

  • For instance, “I flunked the math test, despite studying for hours.”
  • A person might say, “He flunked out of college, unable to keep up with the coursework.”
  • In a conversation about career setbacks, someone might mention, “I got fired from my job and felt like a complete flunk.”

10. Backfire

This term is used to describe a situation where an action or plan has the opposite effect of what was intended, resulting in negative consequences.

  • For example, “His attempt to win her back by showering her with gifts backfired, and she became even more distant.”
  • A person might say, “The company’s decision to cut costs by reducing staff backfired, leading to decreased productivity.”
  • In a discussion about political strategies, someone might mention, “The smear campaign against the candidate backfired, causing public sympathy and increased support.”

11. Lay an egg

This phrase is often used to describe a situation or performance that is a complete failure. It originates from the idea of a bird laying an egg that does not hatch or produce a baby bird.

  • For example, “The team laid an egg in last night’s game, losing by 20 points.”
  • A person might say, “I was nervous for my presentation, but luckily I didn’t lay an egg.”
  • Another might comment, “The movie had high expectations, but it ended up laying an egg at the box office.”

12. Come a cropper

This phrase is used to describe someone encountering a sudden and unexpected failure or setback. The origin of the phrase is uncertain, but it may refer to a rider falling off a horse and landing headfirst.

  • For instance, “He invested all his money in a risky venture and came a cropper when it failed.”
  • A person might say, “I thought I could fix my car myself, but I came a cropper and ended up causing more damage.”
  • Another might comment, “She took a shortcut and came a cropper when she got lost.”

13. Fall short

This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone or something does not meet the desired or expected outcome. It implies a failure to reach a certain standard or goal.

  • For example, “The sales team fell short of their monthly target.”
  • A person might say, “I studied hard for the exam, but I fell short and didn’t get the grade I wanted.”
  • Another might comment, “The team’s performance fell short of the coach’s expectations.”

14. Flounder

This word is used to describe someone or something that is struggling or failing in a clumsy or ineffective manner. It can refer to a person’s actions or a project’s progress.

  • For instance, “He floundered in his attempts to learn a new language.”
  • A person might say, “I floundered through the interview and didn’t make a good impression.”
  • Another might comment, “The company’s new product launch floundered due to poor marketing.”

15. Go belly up

This phrase is used to describe a business or venture that fails or goes bankrupt. It implies a complete collapse or failure.

  • For example, “After months of financial struggles, the company finally went belly up.”
  • A person might say, “I invested all my savings in a risky venture, and it went belly up.”
  • Another might comment, “The restaurant had a great concept, but it went belly up within a year.”

16. Go pear-shaped

This phrase is used to describe a situation or plan that doesn’t turn out as expected or goes awry.

  • For example, “Our vacation plans went pear-shaped when our flight got cancelled.”
  • A person might say, “I had high hopes for the project, but it all went pear-shaped.”
  • In a conversation about a failed business venture, someone might comment, “Things went pear-shaped when they couldn’t secure funding.”

17. Crash out

This slang phrase is used to describe someone abruptly falling asleep or experiencing a sudden loss of energy or focus.

  • For instance, “I was so exhausted after work that I crashed out as soon as I got home.”
  • A person might say, “I was studying all night, but eventually I crashed out.”
  • In a discussion about someone’s lack of productivity, someone might comment, “They always crash out after lunch and get nothing done.”

18. Lemon

This term is used to describe an item or situation that is of poor quality, unreliable, or doesn’t meet expectations.

  • For example, “I bought a used car, but it turned out to be a lemon.”
  • A person might say, “This new phone I got is a complete lemon. It keeps freezing.”
  • In a conversation about a failed business venture, someone might comment, “They invested in a lemon of a company.”

19. Damp squib

This phrase is used to describe an event, action, or situation that turns out to be underwhelming or anticlimactic.

  • For instance, “The concert was a damp squib. The band didn’t play their best songs.”
  • A person might say, “I was expecting a big celebration, but it turned out to be a damp squib.”
  • In a discussion about a failed product launch, someone might comment, “The new smartphone release was a damp squib. It didn’t generate much excitement.”

20. Bungle

This term is used to describe the act of making a mistake, especially when it results in a failure or something not being done correctly.

  • For example, “He bungled the presentation by forgetting his lines.”
  • A person might say, “I bungled the recipe and ended up with a burnt cake.”
  • In a conversation about a failed attempt at fixing something, someone might comment, “I tried to repair my car, but I just ended up bungling it.”
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