Definition of flunk in English:



[WITH OBJECT]North American
  • 1Fail to reach the required standard in (an examination, test, or course of study)

    ‘I flunked biology in the tenth grade’
    • ‘But his escape to the sun has been thwarted because he has again flunked his driving test.’
    • ‘If he flunks the test, the letter of credit is dissolved.’
    • ‘Well, apparently as John said and we've heard on other reports, he had refused to pay any court costs and he had flunked a drug test while he was on probation.’
    • ‘When Gaitan joined the National Guard, Ramos tried to enlist too but flunked the entry test twice.’
    • ‘We presume that the baggage handlers and screeners flunked the test.’
    • ‘However, it flunks the main test of any scientific theory: The ability to make empirically testable predictions.’
    • ‘The investigation thus far flunks the smell test.’
    • ‘One false step - like failing to pay fees or flunking a course - and they can be shown the door.’
    • ‘The sense that you fell in love just yesterday but that you flunked your driver's test in a former life is a natural and surprisingly universal temporal distortion that helps one maintain a positive self-image.’
    • ‘When it comes to simple arithmetic, involving trillions of dollars of workers' Social Security money, the privatizers flunk the test.’
    • ‘The dog flunked the test, the suitcase went skittling down the conveyor belt, and it was apparently loaded onto a plane destined for parts unknown.’
    • ‘I would sooner or later flunk my tests and exams.’
    • ‘And no matter how high they set the price, you were going to buy one copy because otherwise you'd flunk the course.’
    • ‘I was the mountaineer, I was the one living in the mountains - and I was the one who flunked this test.’
    • ‘The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on Tuesday that Young, who flunked a steroid test in 1999, should have been ineligible for the Sydney Games.’
    • ‘‘If you're talking about an elite, wealthy athlete,’ he says, ‘they'll go to people like me to make sure they don't flunk drug tests.’’
    • ‘Insofar as such writers flunk the tests laid out by textbook publishers, they risk slipping quietly out of circulation.’
    • ‘Yeah, but on the other hand, have you ever heard of a Winter Olympic athlete getting a medal revoked for flunking a steroid test?’
    • ‘If something is legal but flunks the smell test, do not do it.’
    • ‘So far, however, the bloggers are flunking the journalism test.’
    be unsuccessful in, not pass
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Judge (an examination candidate) to have failed to reach the required standard.
      • ‘My teacher phoned me and threatened to flunk me if I didn't go to class.’
      • ‘I tell Rufus McClure about this and he chuckles, ‘Many an English teacher would flunk Hemingway.’’
      • ‘No teacher can ever flunk a student on the basis of personal dislike.’
      • ‘For outbursts like these, Ed's teachers eventually flunked him, so he hauled up to Johannesburg and trained as an industrial radiographer, testing welds in an oil refinery.’
      • ‘And also, I think, look, people sue because the teachers flunk their kids.’
      • ‘I'm sure that's just one of the many they ask - and you won't be automatically flunked for saying you have never touched a stirring spoon.’
      • ‘English teacher Mr. Bates seems to flunk her for very suspect reasons.’
      • ‘So the teacher said - the English teacher said she would flunk me if I didn't take drama, because she thought I had to overcome my shyness.’
      • ‘‘I hope Boarst flunks her and she gets kicked out,’ Lauren muttered under her breath.’
    2. 1.2flunk outno object (of a student) leave or be dismissed from school or college as a result of failing to reach the required standard.
      ‘Tip flunked out of Caltech and moved back home’
      • ‘A statement of fact: if the Web had existed when I was in college, I'd have flunked out.’
      • ‘No, I'm just worried that my best student might be flunking out of school.’
      • ‘He took a moment, calculating his words, then finally said, ‘I managed to flunk out of college.’’
      • ‘With the days of free-flowing grants long behind us, we need sound saving plans to ensure that our children don't financially flunk out of college.’
      • ‘She revealed that her husband was not supportive of her attending college and had predicted she would flunk out.’
      • ‘At Harvard, back during the era when more than half of all alumni sons were admitted, those special admittees were disproportionately represented among students who flunked out.’
      • ‘After his return, Salinger made his second try at college, having flunked out of New York University a few years earlier.’
      • ‘After driving across America with two girlfriends in the summer of 1964, Judee flunked out of college.’
      • ‘And anyways, if I flunk out of high school and no colleges accept me, at least I will already be trained in asking, ‘Do you want fries with that?’’
      • ‘I've seen many students spend too much time partying and flunk out, but I've also seen many of them sacrifice a lot of fun times and a lot of personal growth for a snatching grab at the dean's list.’
      • ‘A student who was flunking out of school, he insisted the shootings were not about revenge.’
      • ‘He flunked out of college a number of times before settling down at a Baptist college in Mississippi.’
      • ‘And one student who flunked out after spending too much time on the Internet did return last September.’
      • ‘Many students flunked out of college trying to get edit decision lists to play on their roommate's computer.’
      • ‘He had wandered around after graduating high school, and after flunking out of college, he discovered white supremacy.’
      • ‘I strayed instead into the less elegant world of pinochle, an addiction that almost caused me to flunk out of college.’
      • ‘If only Roberts were a failure, he would better understand the masses (the ones Cohen understands so well because he flunked out of college).’
      • ‘The school also required Alison talk to each teacher individually to specifically explain why she was flunking out in the Spring of 2000.’
      • ‘If a college player is in danger of flunking out and has nothing to fall back on, that situation is more important than dealing with a multimillionaire who is pouting because he wants a contract extension.’
      • ‘Students who flunk out because they study too little - or drink too much - frequently return to school and get degrees.’


Early 19th century (in the general sense ‘back down, fail utterly’; originally US): perhaps related to funk or to US flink ‘be a coward’, perhaps a variant of flinch.