fizzle out

verb (used without object), fiz·zled, fiz·zling.

  1. to make a hissing or sputtering sound, especially one that dies out weakly.
  2. Informal. to fail ignominiously after a good start (often followed by out): The reform movement fizzled out because of poor leadership.


  1. a fizzling, hissing, or sputtering.
  2. Informal. a failure; fiasco.

verb (intr)

  1. to make a hissing or bubbling sound
  2. (often foll by out) informal to fail or die out, esp after a promising start


  1. a hissing or bubbling sound; fizz
  2. informal an outright failure; fiasco

1530s, “to break wind without noise,” probably altered from obsolete fist, from Middle English fisten “break wind” (see feisty) + frequentative suffix -le. Related: Fizzled; fizzling.

Noun sense of “failure, fiasco” is from 1846, originally U.S. college slang for “failure in an exam.” Barnhart says it is “not considered as derived from the verb.” The verb in this sense is from 1847.

Fail, end weakly, especially after a hopeful beginning. For example, The enthusiasm for reform has fizzled out in this state. The word fizzle dates from the early 1500s and meant “to break wind without making noise.” Later it was applied to hissing noises, such as those made by wet fireworks, and then to any endeavor that ends in disappointment. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]

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