Suppose I read a book and really enjoy reading it until I reach a certain point where I am suddenly not enjoying the experience anymore. I was trying to come up with a good phrase to describe this experience and couldn't really come up with a good one.

Things I've considered:

  • Left a bad taste in my mouth (doesn't really conote that the experience had been pleasant up until the negative point)
  • Turned to ashes in my mouth (a little better, but seems a bit harsher that what I'm looking for. It seems like this conotes an extremely bad ending, like someone dieing or something)
  • Unsatisfying experience (again, doesn't include the previous good)
  • Turned sour (Seems closer to what I want....)
  • Didn't pan out (Implies that I had high hopes, but no actual good experiences)

Are there any really good phrases/words that describe this phenomenon?

closed as not a real question by MetaEd, FumbleFingers, Rory Alsop, Kris, Kristina Lopez Jun 10 '13 at 17:40

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    You may need to be more specific about what went wrong. After all, you could simply have got bored because of the writer's poor style, or a character simply appeared in the last chapter with a vital clue to whodunnit, which left you exasperated. Both of those imply a change of state. – Andrew Leach Jun 9 '13 at 10:49
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    Sounds to me as though you became disillusioned, for whatever reason. As Andrew Leach suggests, there could be numerous reasons for becoming disenchanted with a given tome. Hey, "disenchanted" is pretty good. You were enchanted at first; later, you became disenchanted! – rhetorician Jun 9 '13 at 13:06
  • @rhetorician Disenchanted or disillusioned is very close. The problem is that I want a phrase that gives equal credence to both my enjoyment of most of the experience and my ending with negative feelings. That is, I don't want to denigrate my previous emotions, even though I ended with a negative view. I feel like both the words you suggest in a way invalidate the prior experiences: you realize that the thing wasn't as good as you thought, and you were deluded to think otherwise. I'm honestly not sure there is even a real phrase to describe this... – Daniel Jun 9 '13 at 13:42
  • This looks like "writing advice" to me. – FumbleFingers Jun 9 '13 at 15:29
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    @Daniel: "Ambivalence" (or "ambivalency") sounds pretty darn close to me. "Psychology: the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions" (dictionary.reference.com/browse/ambivalence?db=dictionary). One could argue that upon putting the book down, the positive feelings you had before the onset of the negative disappeared and were no longer a part of you, but still, how can you truly forget? – rhetorician Jun 9 '13 at 17:37

If we're talking specifically about a book, then I suggest saying that you found the ending disappointing, a let-down, or unsatisfying. This conveys the idea that (1) the ending was less enjoyable than expected, and (2) that the rest of the book was enjoyable or at least was not unenjoyable.

For a general experience, the concept of 'ending' might not be appropriate, so I would say the experience turned sour, as you suggested. Saying that a more generic experience was disappointing, a let-down, or unsatisfying, to me only conveys that the experience was not as enjoyable as expected but does not convey that some (earlier) part of the experience was positive.

  • -1 Read the question. He said I ... really enjoy reading it until I reach a certain point where I am suddenly not enjoying the experience anymore. Since he talks of a certain point and implies he is continuing to read it, he is clearly not talking about finding "the ending disappointing", as you mention. – TrevorD Jun 9 '13 at 18:39
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    But in the title of the question it reads:Phrase for experiencing a negative conclusion to a positive experience. Hence Azula's suggestion is valid. – Mari-Lou A Jun 9 '13 at 21:11
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    @Trevor: While disappointing and unsatisfying may suffer from the shortfall you indentify, I think let-down fits the bill quite well. – J.R. Jun 10 '13 at 2:30
  • @TrevorD I was aware of what he wrote; I simply considered the book past that certain point to be the ending. If you prefer to restrict 'ending' to me the last chapter, or something, then one could say that they found the second half of the book disappointing, or the middle of the book disappointing, etc. – Ellie Jun 10 '13 at 16:40

To fizzle (out)

American Heritage Dictionary of the English language

  1. [Informal] To fail or end weakly, especially after a hopeful beginning.

Collins English dictionary

  1. (often followed by out) Informal to fail or die out, esp after a promising start

You might say of the book: "It started off really well but then it just fizzled out. So disappointing!"


That sounds anticlimactic to me. NOAD defines the noun form as follows:

anticlimax (noun) a disappointing end to an exciting or impressive series of events : the rest of the journey was an anticlimax by comparison

Collins defines the adjective as follows:

anticlimactic (adj.) (of a conclusion to a series of events, etc) disappointing or ineffective


With apologies to @StonyB, you can use:

to go south : (American informal) to lose value or quality

As in:

I was enjoying it, right up until it all went south.

I enjoyed it, right up to the moment when it all went south.

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