Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.

not with a bang but with a whimper

In an anti-climactic way. Typically used to describe the end of something. The phrase is taken from the last stanza of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men": "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper." We all thought the championship was going to be a close game, but it ended up being a blowout, and the season ended not with a bang but with a whimper.
See also: bang, but, not, whimper

not with a bang but a whimper

If something happens not with a bang but a whimper, it is less effective or exciting than people expected or intended. The Cannes film festival approached its climax yesterday not with a bang but a whimper, as thousands of disappointed festival-goers left early. Note: You can also say that something happened with a bang and not a whimper to mean the opposite. Should the monarchy go, it would be with a memorable bang and not a whimper. Note: This is the last line of T.S. Eliot's poem `The Hollow Men' (1925): `This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.'
See also: bang, but, not, whimper
References in classic literature ?
You see," said the Cowardly Lion, with a whimper, "I haven't the courage to keep tramping forever, without getting anywhere at all.
The little Prince was now so terrified that he could but tremble and whimper in his fright.
Presently he began to whimper, for he was tired and hungry and frightened--just a poor little baby, helpless and hopeless in the hands of this cruel enemy all his royalty as nothing, all gone with the silken finery which lay in the thick mud at the bottom of the Thames--and presently he dropped into a fitful sleep in the bottom of the skiff.
Challenger at last, clinging with a whimper to her husband's arm.
Like a lioness, when the cook-boy had struck him with a stick to drive him out of the kitchen, had Biddy sprung upon the black, receiving without wince or whimper one straight blow from the stick, and then downing him and mauling him among his pots and pans until dragged (for the first time snarling) away by the unchiding Mister Haggin, who; however, administered sharp words to the cook- boy for daring to lift hand against a four-legged dog belonging to a god.
I heard her beginning to whine and whimper behind me.
They flatter thee, as one flattereth a God or devil; they whimper before thee, as before a God or devil.
Amelia was making a fool of herself in an absurd hysterical manner, and retired to her own room to whimper in private.
Shall we whimper over legends of the tortures practised on each other by the Pagan Indians, and smile upon the cruelties of Christian men
He began to whimper, just as he had done that night in the prison when she afterwards sat at his bedside till morning; exclaimed that he was a poor ruin and a poor wretch in the midst of his wealth; and clasped her in his arms.
But I wonder shall I in those fifteen or twenty years grow so meek that I shall humble myself before people and whimper at every word that I am a criminal?
But when the thoroughly 'Remploy in to no a whimper decent Tory welfare minister Lord Freud told a fringe meeting "there are, as you say, groups not worth the full wage", lynch-mobs bayed for blood.
The school door opens, the teacher smiles No one moves for a little while The chattering stops, a child cries out A whimper here, a whimper there Mothers' tensions fill the air They all go their separate ways Shorn of their child for the very first day Counting the hours till school time ends Can't wait to hold their little ones.
WHIMPER Despite losing out on third and a possible crack at the Champions League, United can still finish the season on a high and seal a Europa League berth.
LAST weekend started with a whimper (can you start things with a whimper or can you only end things with a whimper?