(also crash in flames) To fail entirely; blow it: You’d think his presidency had already crashed in flames
To collapse from exhaustion; poop out: I was just about to crash and burn (1970s+)
A spectacular crash, in the mode of the conclusion of the car-chase scene in the movie “Bullitt” and many subsequent imitators (compare die horribly). A Sun-3 display screen losing the flyback transformer and lightning strikes on VAX-11/780 backplanes are notable crash and burn generators.
The construction “crash-and-burn machine” is reported for a computer used exclusively for alpha or beta testing, or reproducing bugs (i.e. not for development). The implication is that it wouldn’t be such a disaster if that machine crashed, since only the testers would be inconvenienced.
Fail utterly, as in Dale crashed and burned three times before passing the bar exam. This idiom alludes to a car or airplane that has crashed and caught fire. [ ; 1970s ]
In skateboarding and other sports, be taken out of competition by a collision, accident, or fall, as in Although she was favored to win the downhill race, she crashed and burned on her first run. [ ; 1980s ]
Related Terms smash and grab
[krash-aw] /ˈkræʃ ɔ/ noun 1. Richard, 1613–49, English poet. /ˈkræʃɔː/ noun 1. Richard. 1613–49, English religious poet, noted esp for the Steps to the Temple (1646)
- Crash barrier
noun 1. a barrier erected along the centre of a motorway, around a racetrack, etc, for safety purposes
noun 1. a small, fast boat used in rescue operations, especially for airplane crashes.