fall on one's face


Also, fall flat on one's face. Make a blunder or error of judgment, as in Holly fell on her face whenever she forecast earnings, or That weatherman keeps falling flat on his face with his predictions. This term, first recorded in 1614, originally had the literal meaning of “prostrate oneself in reverence.” The present colloquial usage, however, transfers a physical fall to various kinds of bungling.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.