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Crash and burn

verb phrase

(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.
[Jargon File]
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 ]


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  • Crashaw

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  • Crash barrier

    noun 1. a barrier erected along the centre of a motorway, around a racetrack, etc, for safety purposes

  • Crash-boat

    noun 1. a small, fast boat used in rescue operations, especially for airplane crashes.

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