miss the boat

Idioms & Phrases

miss the boat

  1. Fail to take advantage of an opportunity, as in Jean missed the boat on that club membership. This expression, which alludes to not being in time to catch a boat, has been applied more widely since the 1920s.

  2. Fail to understand something, as in I'm afraid our legislator missed the boat on that amendment to the bill. [Mid-1900s] Also see miss the point.

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