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Fiasco

A failure, a mull. In Italy they cry Olà, olà, fiasco! to an unpopular singer. This word, common in France and Germany, is employed as the opposite of furore.

The history of the word is as follows: In making Venetian glass, if the slightest flaw is detected, the glass-blower turns the article into a fiasco-that is, a common flask.

A gentleman from North America (G. Fox, “the Modern Bathylus”) furnishes me with the following anecdote: “There was once a clever harlequin of Florence named Dominico Biancolelli, noted for his comic harangues. He was wont to improvise upon whatever article he held in his hand. One night he appeared holding a flask (flasco; but failing to extract any humour whatsoever from his subject he said. `It is thy fault fiasco,' and dashed the flask on the ground. After that a failure was commonly called in Florence a `fiasco'.” To me it appears incredible that a clever improvisator could draw no matter from an empty bottle, apparently a subject rife with matter.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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