going up in smoke


      • failure or loss
        When something, such as a plan or investment, fails or is wasted

      • disappearing or vanishing
        When something, such as hopes or dreams, disappears or comes to nothing

    Examples of going up in smoke

    • The businessman's carefully crafted plan went up in smoke during the board meeting when his competitors exposed all its flaws, leaving him with nothing but a pile of ashes.

      This is an example of the idiom "going up in smoke" being used to describe a situation where something completely falls apart and becomes utterly useless, leaving nothing behind but destruction or failure, much like smoke disappearing into thin air.

    • The singer's career went up in smoke when a video of her behaving erratically went viral, leaving her reputation in shambles and her future prospects uncertain.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to reflect a sudden and monumental decline in someone's fortune or reputation, leaving them with no hope of recovery and facing only disappointment and misery.

    • The politician's political career went up in smoke when she was caught accepting bribes, leading to her swift resignation and subsequent disgrace.

      This use of the idiom highlights how serious consequences can arise from wrongdoing, causing a drastic and lasting damage to one's reputation and aspirations, much as smoke engulfs everything in its path.

    • The stock market's downward spiral went up in smoke as the economy slipped into a deep recession, leading to widespread panic and financial ruin for many.

      This example illustrates how the idiom can be used to describe the speed and severity with which a situation can deteriorate, leaving everything that was once valuable in a state of disarray and instability, much like smoke spreading rapidly in a landscape.

    • The budget proposal was going up in smoke as soon as the opposition party presented their counterargument.

      In this example, the phrase "going up in smoke" is used figuratively to describe the sudden collapse or failure of the budget proposal as a result of intense opposition. Just as smoke disappears into thin air, the budget proposal is being destroyed and eliminated by the opposing arguments.

    • His grand ideas disappeared into thin air, going up in smoke as soon as he presented them in the meeting.

      In this example, the use of "going up in smoke" emphasizes the complete and sudden failure or rejection of someone's grand ideas. When someone's thoughts or plans fall out of favor, it can seem as though they're vanishing into thin air, leaving no trace behind.

    • The chances of our project getting approved were going up in smoke, thanks to the unexpected difficulties we faced along the way.

      This use of "going up in smoke" highlights the demise or deterioration of our project's chances of being approved due to unforeseen difficulties. Just as smoke disappears into the air, the chances of our project being approved have dissipated due to the obstacles we encountered.

    • The tension between the two parties was so high that their anger went up in smoke as soon as they realized they had miscommunicated.

      In this final example, the use of "going up in smoke" is employed to describe the sudden dissipation of anger caused by a miscommunication. Just as smoke disappears into the atmosphere, the anger of the parties vanishes once they realize the misunderstanding and rectify it.


    The idiom "going up in smoke" is used to describe the failure or loss of something, as well as the disappearing or vanishing of hopes or dreams. It is often used to convey a sense of disappointment or frustration when something does not turn out as expected, resulting in a negative outcome. It can be used in various contexts, such as in business, personal relationships, or even in reference to one's own aspirations.

    Overall, the idiom serves as a metaphor for the dissipation of something valuable or significant, leaving behind a sense of emptiness or regret.

    Origin of "going up in smoke"

    The origin of the idiom "going up in smoke" can be traced back to the literal act of something burning and turning into smoke. When a fire consumes something, it is transformed into smoke and ash, signifying its complete destruction. This visual imagery is then used metaphorically to convey the idea of something valuable or important being lost or wasted.

    The phrase may have originated from the practice of burning offerings or sacrifices in ancient rituals, where the items being offered would literally "go up in smoke" as a symbol of their dedication to a higher power. Over time, the expression evolved to encompass a broader sense of loss or failure, beyond just religious contexts.

    Overall, the idiom "going up in smoke" has its origins in the visual and symbolic nature of fire and smoke, and it has been used for centuries to convey the concept of something valuable or significant being lost or wasted.