from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A transient occurrence with no long-term effect.
- n. A career notable for early success not followed by significant accomplishment.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- intransitive v. a failure or a poor performance, especially after a normal or auspicious start; also, a person whose initial performance appears augur success but who fails to achieve anything notable. From 4th pan, n., sense 3 -- part of a flintlock. Occasionally, the powder in the pan of a flintlock would flash without conveying the fire to the charge, and the ball would fail to be discharged. Thus, a good or even spectacular beginning that eventually achieves little came to be called a flash in the pan.
- n. the flashing of the priming in the pan of a flintlock musket without discharging the piece; hence, sudden, spasmodic effort that accomplishes nothing.
- n. See under Flash.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. someone who enjoys transient success but then fails
From the days of flintlock firearms, where the main charge was intended to be fired by a small charge of gunpowder in the priming pan. If the resultant fire did not pass through the touch-hole and ignite the main charge, the momentary coruscation produced noise and smoke, but no substantial effect, and was termed a “flash in the pan”. Sometimes called "fluff in the pan", the term refers to any ineffectual, short, spasmodic effort which dies in the attempt, such as an explosion of priming in the lockpan of a gun, while the gun itself does not go off. (Wiktionary)
As for your remaining free, that's all very well to think during the interregnum, but a man without a true love is a ship without ballast, a one-tined fork, half a pair of scissors, an utter flash in the pan ....