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won't wash

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Will not stand up to examination, is unconvincing, will not work, as in That excuse about your sick aunt just won't wash. This expression originally alluded to a fabric that would not stand up to washing but by the late 1800s was used figuratively for other kinds of failure.

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QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!

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Question 1 of 7
“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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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.

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