swing and a miss

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An allusion to unsuccessful physical actions in such sports as baseball or boxing, as when swinging a bat at a pitched ball or when throwing a punch at an opponent.


swing and a miss (usually uncountable, plural swings and misses)

  1. (idiomatic, almost always preceded by a) A sincere but unsuccessful attempt.
    • 2005 June 4, Michael Valpy, "Dutch, Belgians take gay marriage in stride," Globe and Mail (Canada) (retrieved 11 Jan 2016):
      A letter arrived from then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's enforcer of the faith, instructing him to behave as a Roman Catholic politician and vote No. . . . And, of course, Mr. Koopmans voted Yes on the legislation. . . . A swing and a miss for Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
    • 2009 Nov. 24, Sam Sifton, "Dining and Wine: A Voce Columbus," New York Times (retrieved 11 Jan 2016):
      Beef carpaccio with walnuts, lemon and pecorino is a swing and a miss: almost flavorless.
    • 2012 August 28, Chris Cillizza, "Republican National Convention night one: Winners and Losers," Washington Post (retrieved 11 Jan 2016):
      In her defense, she's not ever been at this level of national politics before but Tuesday night's speech felt like a swing and a miss for Ayotte.