FAIL / Epic Fail

FAIL / Epic Fail

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Updated Sep 03, 2020 at 03:56AM EDT by shevyrolet.

Added Dec 12, 2008 at 03:17PM EST by Jamie Dubs.

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FAIL is turn-of-the-century internet slang that came to popularity through image macros and short videos depicting situations with unfortunate outcomes. Traditionally, the verb “fail” has been a used to signify the opposite of “succeed,” to fall short of achieving a goal. Today, the word is also commonly used as an interjection to point out a person’s mistake or shortcoming, often regardless of its magnitude.


The earliest documented usage of the term “FAIL” can be traced to a Japanese 16-bit scrolling shooter game, "Blazing Star," which was released on February 26th, 1998.[5] The game was often mocked for its grammatically incorrect “game over” message that reads: “YOU FAIL IT! YOUR SKILL IS NOT ENOUGH- SEE YOU NEXT TIME- BYE BYE" (shown below).

As seen with the All Your Base are Belong to Us meme, the combination of a retro video game narrative and Engrish translation proves itself to be a powerful source of lulz.


While the exact origin of “FAIL,” as an interjection, remains unknown, the earliest appearance of “FAIL” on slang repository Urban Dictionary [1] dates back to July 22nd, 2003.

either an interjection used when one disapproves of something, or a verb meaning approximately the same thing as the slang form of suck.

1] "you actually bought that? FAIL"
2] "this movie fails."

This use of “fail” not as a part of speech but as a stand-alone interjection was further popularized by message board sites like 4chan and Something Awful forums. Due to the increased popularity of FAIL image macros and videos, the Cheezburger Network launched FAILblog [2], an aggregator of FAIL-related media, in May 2008.[3][4]

On August 9th, 2009, the New York Times,[6] in almost verbatim to GotFunnyPictures Episode, reported on the FAIL phenomenon. They wrote:

This punchy stand-alone fail most likely originated as a shortened form of “You fail” or, more fully, “You fail it,” the taunting “game over” message in the late-’90s Japanese video game Blazing Star, notorious for its fractured English.

On July 5th, 2011, the YouTube channel FailArmy launched, posting fail videos with various themes on a regular baiss. Within seven years, the channel has more than 14 million subscribers and more than 5 billion views.

Notable Images

DAGIANT HORNETS KILL 42 PEOPLE IN CHINA LIVE CNN POLICE REPORT Man arrested for everything Unlawful possession of a cured vehlcle firearm by a felon, thet, pos 见场1 sourbud1993: megustamemes: Bank teller laughing at robber. She like w-- this n---- gon do wit that Imao 4GIFs.comme rn e learn have Actr ablar cribir Cuál es tu número de teléfono? Es 7-6-4-9-0 abla no-this-is-iarod easilyhumored did this kid in my old spanish textbook call someone and ask for their yep

Notable Videos

Search Interest

According to Google Trends, Internet users began exchanging and searching for pictures and videos labeled with “FAIL” as early as in 2004.

External References

Recent Videos 604 total

Recent Images 1,535 total

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