Nearby words

  1. flummox,
  2. flump,
  3. flung,
  4. flunisolide,
  5. flunitrazepam,
  6. flunk out,
  7. flunkey,
  8. flunkout,
  9. flunky,
  10. fluoborate

Origin of flunk

1815–25, Americanism; perhaps akin to flinch1, funk1

Related formsun·flunked, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for flunk out


/ (flʌŋk) informal, mainly US, Canadian and NZ /


to fail or cause to fail to reach the required standard in (an examination, course, etc)
(intr foll by out) to be dismissed from a school or college through failure in examinations


a low grade below the pass standard

Word Origin for flunk

C19: perhaps from flinch 1 + funk 1

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for flunk out



1823, American English college slang, original meaning "to back out, give up, fail," traditionally said to be an alteration of British university slang funk "to be frightened, shrink from" (see funk (n.1)). Related: Flunked; flunking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with flunk out

flunk out


Expel or be expelled from a school because one's work does not meet the required standard. For example, He flunked out of Harvard after just one year. [Slang; early 1800s]


Fail at anything, as in The camera ran out of film so we flunked out as photographers. [Slang; late 1800s]

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