To fail or perform poorly in an academic course or examination, typically resulting in a negative grade or mark.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



fail, flop, bomb, botch, falter, underachieve


pass, succeed, excel, thrive, achieve

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun flunks, flunk
Verb flunk, flunking, flunked, flunks
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • Despite putting in hours of study, Mark managed to flunk his math test, leaving him disappointed and determined to improve.

  • If you don’t start studying seriously, there’s a high chance you will flunk the final exam and have to retake the course.

  • Susan was shocked to discover that she had flunked her French class, as she had always been a diligent student.

  • Jake’s lack of attendance and effort caused him to flunk multiple classes, jeopardizing his chances of graduating on time.


The word “flunk” originated in the United States in the early 19th century as a colloquial term to describe failing an academic examination. It is believed to be a variation of the word “flinch,” which means to show signs of hesitation or recoil. Over time, “flunk” became established as a verb specifically used to describe academic failure.

The concept of flunking or failing a class has long been an integral part of educational systems. It serves as an evaluative measure of a student’s understanding and mastery of the course material. When a student doesn’t meet the required standards or criteria in an examination or overall performance, they are said to have flunked the class or test.

The word “flunk” is typically used as an intransitive verb, but it can also be used transitively when referring to failing another person. For example, a teacher can flunk a student if they determine that the student’s performance merits a failing grade. The word “flunk” can be modified with prefixes, such as “re-” or “pre-”, to indicate repeated failure or a failure before a specific event.

In contemporary usage, the term “flunk” is commonly employed in educational contexts, especially in academic settings such as schools and universities. It has also been adopted into informal language and can be used metaphorically or figuratively in various contexts. For example, someone might say they “flunked” a job interview to convey a sense of failure or lack of success.