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misfire

When an engine or weapon misfires, it doesn't function or ignite correctly. When a plan misfires, it doesn't work quite the way you imagined it would.

The original meaning of misfire is gun-related; when pulling a trigger doesn't result in the gun firing, the gun misfires. Around the turn of the 20th century, the word began to be used for combustion engines that couldn't get started because their fuel wouldn't ignite. Figuratively, misfire is good for describing ideas that don't ignite: "I'm afraid my plan to talk my parents into taking us to Disney World may misfire in the end."

Definitions of misfire
  1. verb
    fail to fire or detonate
    “The guns misfired
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    type of:
    break, break down, conk out, die, fail, give out, give way, go, go bad
    stop operating or functioning
  2. noun
    an explosion that fails to occur
    synonyms: dud
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    type of:
    breakdown, equipment failure
    a cessation of normal operation
  3. noun
    a failure to hit (or meet or find etc)
    synonyms: miss
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    type of:
    failure
    an event that does not accomplish its intended purpose
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