There are several sound clips that are widely understood to mean "(epic) fail". I think the most famous one is the one with the oboe or trumpet... 4 notes with declining pitch, the last one being stretched out.

  • Is there a common way to capture that in writing?
  • 9
    One note is worth 76 words. Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


The most common ways I've seen are writing out the words:

sad trombone
:( trombone

Or to use the onomatopoeic

Wah, Wah, Wah, Wahhhhhhh …
Womp, Womp, Womp, Wommmmmp… (at the behest of several commenters)

Or to combine them:

sad trombone: wah, wah, wah, wahhhhh …

  • 2
    Perfect... I was trying all kinds of "wua, ua, wue" on Youtube and I couldn't find anything :)
    – Emanuel
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:32
  • 1
    Yes, onomatopoeia varies from language to language. It makes it challenging to look it up …
    – David M
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:34
  • 1
    +1 I would have used similar onomatopoeia, but had never heard of "sad trombone".
    – TecBrat
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 17:40
  • 5
    I also saw "womp, womp, womp" and I like "wom, wom, wowowom".
    – TecBrat
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 17:59
  • 1
    But that sound isn't wompwompwomp. It's wompwompwompwomp. The name "womp womp" to me conjures up a different sound [not sure where to most easily find it] which smears the first three notes together [it's a trombone after all].
    – supercat
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:16

This is known as the "sad trombone" (see as a reference: http://www.sadtrombone.com/)

  • Sound like a duck for me... Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 21:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.