I'm looking for a word that describes this kind of person in one word: someone who has a long history of success, whether it'd be money, fame, fighting ability, ANYTHING, but then suddenly fails in such a spectacular way, that it completely (or almost) ruins that person forever.

Imagine a poker player: He has a long winning streak, round after round, getting insane amounts of money, maybe enough to cover him for the rest of his life, but then suddenly loses all that money in one game.

  • Welcome to ELU. One of the requirements of the [swr] tag (which you have correctly found, not everyone does!) is the sample sentence. This helps people find just the right part of speech and helps prevent almost-identical answers which you then have to choose between. It would also help to say whether the word should be pejorative or pitiful.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 9:50

3 Answers 3


The most succinct noun I can think of that applies here is flameout. It's a general noun, and works in nearly any situation, including all the ones you mention. It would be readily understood by nearly all native American English speakers.

If you're looking for colorful ways to describe this person's history, in American English you'd often say they crashed and burned, or suffered a spectacular flameout.


In a single word "meteor", such a person is also called a "shooting star".Merriam Webster.com

In one word, the person might be called a "flash", from "flash in the pan" The Free Dictionary

Limiting to a single word is a problem, as most words can mean more than one thing. But, after establishing what "flash" or "meteor" (or other term) is intended to mean, then the one word will suffice later in a narrative,

Other possible terms are "(burst) bubble", "lightning" (crashes and heard from no more), "flame(out)", "burn (out)" and "flare".

  • Good suggestions. I wish I could pick two answers, but Mark Thompson was first with flameout (which I like the most). Thanks either way! I might have to use one of your suggestions at some point as well.
    – user224537
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 10:13

the strange thing about such a person is what would they call themselves,(preferably emphasised),so the least yet the most in agreeing with what is happening is possibly Bankrupt,this word does have a certain amount of poetic license,seeing its use in poems.

he bankrupted himself by doing it in a way-comfort for him possible-calls himself-bankrupt with reason?

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