Green’s Dictionary of Slang

flash in the pan n.

[SE phr. flash in the pan, an explosion of gunpowder without any communication beyond the touch-hole, thus the gun fails to fire]

1. sex without ejaculation.

Womens Petition against Coffee in Old English Coffee Houses 12: [Coffee-drinkers] Ammunition is wanting; peradventure they present, but cannot give Fire, or at least do but flash in the Pan, instead of doing Execution.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk V 623: Do you never commit Dry Bobs, or Flashes in the Pan?
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 11: Let me tell you, Sirs, it’s a brave thing to be a general officer, without bearing the fatigues of a camp to see the resemblances of battles, without danger of being wounded in ’em, and to hear the artillery roar by days, without any apprehensions of being frightened into flashing in the pan at night with one’s mistress.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 340: Dry Wooers, Old Beaus, and no doers [are a] flash in the Pan: Unfit like old Brooms, For sweeping our Rooms.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 102: Tho’ there was not ’mongst them a man Could make a single flash i’th’ pan, Yet rank rebellion had begun To move the flesh of ev’ry one.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus 3 in Viz 98 Oct. 14: flash in the pann. A spooge-free (qv) male orgasm. A cashless money shot (qv).

2. an incompetent, useless person.

[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 340: Still doating, or gloating, / Still stumbling, or fumbling, / Still hawking, still baulking, / You flash in the Pan.
[UK]Cibber Refusal 15: Pshah! a meer Flash in the Pan.
[UK]F. Smedley Harry Coverdale’s Courtship 114: Here’s a scoundrel, who lived eight years with Lord Flashipan.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 32: ‘Where’d anybody ever get the idea Johnson was any good?’ ‘Well, isn’t he?’ ‘He’s just a big black flash in the pan.’.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 18 Feb. 5: My absolute terror was that I would make another movie and everybody would say, ‘Well, he was a flash in the pan’.

3. an abortive effort or outburst; also as adj.

[UK]N. Ward Rambling Fuddle-Caps 16: Keep your Wits prim’d for a flash in the Pan.
[UK]G. Colman Musical Lady Prologue: A flash in the pan with empty gun.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) III 98: I was not remiss in composing a fine compliment on my way [...] but it was just so much flash in the pan.
[US]J.K. Paulding Westward Ho! II 183: Poor old Snowball slipped her bridle the other day, and went out like a flash in the pan.
[UK] ‘The Queer Old Gentlemen’ Nobby Songster 19: These worn out sportsmen cock their gun, / When mischief is the plan, / But let ’em do their very best, / ’Tis a mere flash in the pan.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 29 Nov. 6/2: ‘ Mere Flash in the Pan’ — ‘A nine days’ wonder!’.
[US]B.H. Hall College Words (rev. edn) 204: flash-in-the-pan. A student is said to make a flash-in-the-pan when he commences to recite brilliantly, and suddenly fails.
[UK]Devizes & Wilts. Gaz. 21 Feb. 4/4: M. de la Guerroniere’s pamphlet has caused much disappointment [...] a mere flash in the pan.
[UK]Derby Mercury 9 May 5/4: A mine has been prepared [...] spectators have assembled to witness a mighty explosion — but a puff a smoke, a faint flash, and a shout of derision, announces [...] failure.
[UK]Sporting Times 15 Feb. 5/5: There is a great future before racing there, and the present craze is not merely a flash in the pan.
[US]L.R. Dingus ‘A Word-List From Virginia’ in DN IV:iii 183: flash in the pan, n. A failure: referring to flint lock guns failing to discharge.
[US]J. Lait ‘Charlie the Wolf’ Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 64: It was a shine an’ a flash in the pan.
[Ire]S. O’Casey Plough and the Stars Act II: You said, yourself, it was all ‘only a flash in the pan’.
[UK]D. Bolster Roll On My Twelve 104: So poor Dicky was bound to be a flash in the pan. Not that she was ever directly unkind to him.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 22: But after all, Larkinville was only a flash in the pan rush.
[Ire](con. 1940s) J. Healy Death of an Irish Town 31: They were to be a flash in the pan, people said...
[UK]T. Rhone School’s Out II iii: The flash-in-the-pan miracle worker will burn himself out.
[Ire]B. Geldof Is That It? 123: I was seized with a sense of panic that we might be a two-hit flash in the pan.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 22 Aug. 3: A flash-in-the-pan, one-off, never-to-be-repeated phenomenon.