"A flash in the pan" short-lived fame that is not repeatable

flash in the pan

"A flash in the pan" means that something's popularity is transient.

In a different lesson, I wrote about “fifteen minutes of fame“.  Another way to speak of fame which his short-lived is “a flash in the pan“.

There are two primary meanings for this phrase:

  1. a brief, concentrated or intense effort which in the end produces no significant result
  2. it can refer to someone whose popularity is transient, that is it lasts only for a short duration of time

The origin of this phrase helps us understand the meaning.   Old flintlock rifles and pistols had a “pan” which held the gunpowder which helped fire the bullet.

An unsuccessful attempt to shot the musket in which the gunpowder flared up without a bullet being discharged  was a flash in the pan.  The video below provides an example.

Examples: “What do you think?  Was the Japanese defeat of the US team at the 2011 FIFA World Cup final a flash in the pan?

“Even though Lady Gaga is a very talented musician, I have to wonder if her focus on being shocking will make her a flash in the pan.  Will she still be popular five years from now?”

Does Chinese have a phrase similar to “a flash in the pan“?  If so, would you please share it with us?  I’d love to learn how to say it!

Here’s a example of seeing a flash in the pan of a flintlock pistol.

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