won't wash

Idioms & Phrases

won't wash

Will not stand up to examination, is unconvincing, will not work, as in That excuse about your sick aunt just won't wash. This expression originally alluded to a fabric that would not stand up to washing but by the late 1800s was used figuratively for other kinds of failure.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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