13 Common English Expressions on Failure and Success

Common English Expressions on Failure and Success

Welcome to our Daily English Listening Practice with this week’s series:

13 Common English Expressions
on Failure and Success

Today we talk about Common English Expressions on Failure and Success. We include 13 common words and phrases that you’ll actually hear in normal conversation. There’s tons more, but we’ll start here!

Listen to the audio clips for information and pronunciation.

Rags to Riches

Notes: a successful person who started from nothing, very popular in news articles and success stories


Notes: the team or player most people think won’t win, most people support them over the bigger or better team

Called it

Notes: when you successfully guess something in the future; totally called that 

Nailed it

Notes: when you succeed at something, usually very informal

In the bag

Notes: really sure of success; the game’s in the bag; this can easily sound overly-confident depending on the situation

Blow up in your face

Notes: something that completely fails; it totally blew up in my face, I wasn’t sure if it would blow up in my face or not, so I took the risk

Totally Flopped

Notes: informal, something or an idea that didn’t succeed in any way; also, it went belly-up

Cut Your losses (and Run)

Notes: accepting that you lost and try to move away from a failing project, sometimes people continue to pay or invest in something because of their previous investments 

Turned it Around

Notes: going from bad to good, from a failure to a success

Bail Out

Notes: when you choose to leave a failing situation

Spinning Your Wheels

Notes: doing the same thing over and over again without success

Make or Break

Notes: make is the success, break is the failure; the risk is that you’ll completely succeed or completely fail

Gone Downhill

Notes: polite way of saying that it’s worse than before; “gone to sh*t” very informal


Kat and Mark

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