What does the idiom "Miss the boat" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase Miss the boat, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression Miss the boat used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "Miss the boat"


The phrase “miss the boat” is a slang expression used to describe a person who has failed to take advantage of an opportunity or has not acted quickly enough, causing them to lose out or be left behind. In other words, it can be used to describe a situation in which someone has not acted quickly enough, and therefore is not able to take advantage of whatever opportunity there was.


The phrase “miss the boat” dates back to the early 1900s and is believed to have originated from the phrase “miss the boat” which was used at the time to indicate someone who had arrived late for a voyage. In other words, missing the boat was a literal term that someone would use to describe a person who had been tardy and, as a result, had missed their chance to board a boat or other vessel.


The phrase “miss the boat” is most commonly used as a way to describe someone who has failed to take advantage of an opportunity or has not acted quickly enough. It is often used in a jokingly fashion, with the speaker expressing the idea that the person in question has missed out on something due to their lack of speed. The phrase can also be used to convey disappointment or regret, as it implies that something valuable has been lost due to the person’s inaction.

Example Sentences

  • Dave was too slow to take advantage of the sale and ended up missing the boat.
  • John thought he would have plenty of time to respond to the job posting, but eventually ended up missing the boat.
  • I don’t want to miss the boat on this one, so I think it’s time to act quickly.
  • I guess I really did miss the boat this time.

The meanings of the words in the "Miss the boat" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.


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