Go Down In Flames

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To go down in flames is a common English idiom that has several versions, including go up in flames, go up in smoke, and go down in smoke.

The expression is also interesting in that, while most idioms don't share any real-world cognates, go down in flames could easily be confused with a literal event.

Meaning

When we use the phrase go up in flames or go down in smoke figuratively, we a referring to something ending or failing suddenly and perhaps spectacularly. We often hear of a business "going down in flames." Unfortunately, we might actually think a fire occurred. Both expressions are easily confusable with literal statements. Most of the time, however, it is easy to tell when the phrase is being used metaphorically.

Usage

"He had a promising athletic career, but it went up in flames after he injured his knee."

"They were on a winning streak, but the whole team seemed to go down in flames after their star player was injured."

Go down in flames idiom meaning
Go down in flames idiom meaning

Origin

To go down in flames seems to call on a literal vision of a plane falling from the sky in flames, crashing and burning. No sources suggest a specific origin for this idiom nor any of its alternative versions.

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