Definition: A decision or event that fails completely, usually in a humiliating fashion.
Etymology: From French and Italian theater roots, meaning a complete failure in performance. Originated in 1855 with theater slang, however, by 1862, it had begun to mean any dismal failure, whether on the stage or off.
The French phrase faire fiasco (become a failure) and the Italian phrase far Fiasco (complete breakdown during a performance) reference the Latin word flasco, meaning “bottle.” The idea being suggested is the depiction of a glass bottle being accidentally dropped and bursting apart.
Another possible origin is from the Italian phrase fare il fiasco, which means “playing a game wherein the loser must pay the fiasco.” This would literally mean that the loser of the game would have to buy a bottle of wine, which would carry the connotation of a fiasco being a costly mistake.
In a Sentence
The hasty decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan turned out to be a fiasco.
Jimmy dropped the wedding cake right in the bride’s lap; what a fiasco! This meeting is a complete fiasco. The presentation didn’t work, the meeting room was double-booked, and even lunch was late.