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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
Flat back-nines saw them tie for sixth, though, and what has been a tremendous betting year is threatening to end with a whimper.
There was the odd bark or whimper and a little lead-tugging, but most dogs were well behaved.
Crying -- encompassing the spectrum from full-throated cries to whimpers -- first was monitored for 5 minutes among 16 babies.
The pups' whimpers were heard by three cousins who pulled them out, drenched in alcohol and close to death.
The self-contradictory character of Long's work--its narcissistic romanticism and conceptual formalism--may redeem it, as it does Robert Smithson's art, which is not unrelated, but these works seem more like elegant artistic whimpers than big mystical bangs.
Michael Dowling, 52, forced a door after hearing the dog's whimpers. He said: "When it came out it looked like a hot iron had been used on it.
Owner Simon Groves, 46, feared the worst until he heard her whimpers and saw her wagging her tail 50ft from the base of the cliff.
If he ever gets caught by the dog warden he whimpers, begs for forgiveness, wails about ruff justice and waits for his owner to clear up his mess and send him to an RSPCA clinic to work on his addictions.
He can recognise your voice and whimpers if you don't play with him.
A group of walkers nearby finally heard her whimpers - and a fire crew roared into action.
This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
As the cub's two handlers showed off the beast in front of a mum cradling the tot in her arms the child started to whimper.