To prove ultimately successful after an apparent defeat

  • To achieve success despite predictable loss; to extricate one-self from a potentially dangerous situation; to escape failure narrowly. This popular expression usually appears in a context implying that the one who “lands on his feet” does so through undeserved luck; he repeatedly gets himself into scrapes but somehow survives. It is apparently based on the notion that one plummeting downward is unlikely to land safely, let alone feet first.

    pan out To succeed; to yield results, especially favorable ones; to occur. This expression alludes to panning for gold, a method of prospecting in which a shallow pan is used to scoop a small amount of gravel and sand from a stream. Any gold present settles to the bottom of the pan as the gravel and sand are washed away. Pan out, then, originally indicated a successful prospecting venture. As the California gold rush that spawned this expression began to subside, pan out became more figurative, and has remained in widespread usage since the late 19th century.

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