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August 28, 2003

Slang of the Week: flash in the pan (noun phrase)
Something (or someone) that starts out with promise, but goes nowhere

At the beginning of her career, many critics predicted that Madonna would just be a flash in the pan, but she has proved them wrong.

Celebrity quote:
"You have to understand, Frank Bruno would not have been champion if I had not been in prison. Oliver McCall would not have been champion if I had not been in prison… They'd be a flash in the pan and would have made some money and opened up a restaurant or bar somewhere where they live at."
-Boxer Mike Tyson

Though it might sound like a cooking reference, flash in the pan refers to gunpowder that explodes in the pan of an old-fashioned flintlock rifle, but doesn’t set the charge, so the gun doesn’t shoot. American slang has a number of similar expressions related to unsuccessful weapons.

For example, in Standard English, blanks are gun cartridges without bullets used for shoot-outs in movies. In slang, for a man to shoot blanks can mean that he is unsuccessful in the bedroom, or simply unsuccessful in getting his wife pregnant. And in World War I, a dud was a bomb that didn’t explode. Now, a dud is now something that fails, like a bad date or Gigli (sorry, J Lo fans). Unlike a flash in the pan, a dud doesn't usually look like it’s going to be successful at first.

If you live in the US, and have a reasonable amount of curiosity, now you are probably wondering how the popular candy Milk Duds got its name. Was it a failure? Apparently so. According to the Hershey’s website, they called them duds because they failed to come out perfectly round. Perhaps not the best advertising strategy, but people buy them anyway.

What’s new at Slang City?
"I think you better quit, letting shit slip, or you'll be leaving with a fat lip..." Nice threats from Limp Bizkit in He Said She Said translated in MUSIC. Warning: contains bad words!