famous last words

A phrase used to express disbelief, rejection, or self-deprecation. For example, They said we'd get an extra bonus at Christmas—famous last words! or This book is bound to make the best-seller list—famous last words! This expression alludes to grandiose statements about human affairs that prove to be untrue, such as “This is the war to end all wars,” or “We must make the world safe for democracy.” [Late 1930s]

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