What the difference between "miserable failure" and "complete failure"? Feel free to provide some examples, if it needs.

Is "miserable failure" something like "horrible failure"?

  • The full OED has the example usage His success was after all a miserable failure under definition 3a Of a thing: pitiable, deplorable - where they say that sense now usually overlaps with 3b Pathetically unworthy, inadequate, or meagre; contemptible, despicable; paltry, mean. Dec 29, 2021 at 12:21
  • @FumbleFingers, I can't understand that answer. My question is about the certain phrase, not in general.
    – Sergei
    Dec 30, 2021 at 20:30
  • The OED gives a lot of "synonyms" for this sense of "miserable" - pitiable, deplorable, pathetic, unworthy, inadequate, meagre, contemptible, despicable, paltry, mean. Even if you don't understand all of them, that list should give you a pretty good idea of the general sense intended. Dec 31, 2021 at 0:39
  • @FumbleFingers, I am afraid you don't understand my question. You wrote synonyms that do not correspond to the question.
    – Sergei
    Dec 31, 2021 at 6:28
  • You're asking the difference between "miserable failure" and "complete failure", and I assume you don't have a problem with what "complete" means in this context. I've given you the full relevant definitions from the best dictionary in the world by far, for any language - and anyone can see it's exactly relevant to your question, because one of their actual cited usage examples is the very collocation miserable failure as in your question. But as they say - you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Dec 31, 2021 at 11:26

1 Answer 1


Calling something a miserable failure is just a more emotive way of saying that it failed completely. It implies that the failure was so bad as to be ignominious.

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