Is it idiomatic in English to use the noun "accounts" in reference to some failed attempts?

For example,

Henry is a very quiet and passive student that even looks sleepy while in my class. Throughout this year I've been trying to get him involved in discussions, games and role-plays and I have virtually failed on all those accounts.

Jenny realized she was running late. She grew increasingly nervous and did her best to get to the point of her destination on time. She tried going by bus, taking a taxi and even riding her half-broken bike, but she failed on all those accounts.

  • I don't think "accounts" there is a good choice. Why not "failed every single time"?
    – AIQ
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 8:29

2 Answers 2


It is, in the US at least, an odd usage. It has nothing to do with failure. It refers to the items in a list. Phrases that might be more idiomatic

failed in all those efforts

failed with respect to each

failed in all these attempts


In British English, failed on all "COUNTS" can be synonymous with failure at every step, in every instance, when referring to a litany of fails. It's fair to say that this can become corrupted in general use and people will use "accounts".

  • "On all counts" is a usage in the US as well though probably not as common as "in all respects." I could not account (pun here) for why "on all accounts" sounded so odd to me though comprehensible. I am sure you must be right that it is corrupted often enough into "on all accounts" that I said to myself something like "I've heard that, but it is weird." Nice bit of elucidation. I am upvoting your answer. . Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 14:55

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