WTF does “Epic Fail” Mean?

Unless you’ve been asleep at the keyboard, you’ve probably noticed that the term “Epic Fail” has suddenly increased exponentially in its usage on the Internet – it seems to have reached critical mass at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) gathering – and you, like many others, may have found yourself wondering “what the heck does Epic Fail mean?”

Interestingly, the meaning of “epic fail” isn’t something on which people agree, even though they are all using the term. It’s kind of like “great sex” or “delicious meatloaf”.

Nor can people agree on its origin. Many cite the PWNZ forum at the City of Heros gaming site, but some say it harkens back to much earlier times. (What “pwnz” means is another post, for another time.)

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In its purest form, epic fail means a catastrophic failure. Not just any failure – not just an “oopsy” – but a full stop, game over failure.

Like the Challenger exploding.

Or the Exxon Valdez.

Or Charles marrying Camilla.

But here is where it gets fuzzy. Because some people use the term “epic fail” to mean a failure that by its very show-stopping spectacularly failing nature comes full circle and actually “wins”.

Still others, perhaps those namby-pamby shrinking violet types, use it to mean something somewhat short of a spectacular failure, because they don’t have the cajones to actually come out and say “hey, you suck”, so they instead brand someone or something with “epic fail”. Or maybe they just haven’t (yet) experienced a full and complete failure, and so have nothing against which to benchmark for an epic fail.


So, now that you know what it means, got any great epic fail stories?

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35 Replies to “WTF does “Epic Fail” Mean?”

  1. Epic Fail makes as much sense as 10 year olds running around saying “like a boss”. I pummeled my 10 yr old nephew with questions about his comprehension of the words that he was spewing out. Not only does he not understand the words “epic fail” or “like a boss” but he has the cajones to tell me that he only says it because everyone else does. Just like my goofy generation thought that”awesome” meant fantastic, instead of immensely huge, or that “wicked” meant really good, or f&%ling awesome, or like we didn’t know that”totally tubular” was actually a surfing reference. I despise how the internet is dumbing down the future generations, but just because we don’t like new slang doesn’t mean we’re innocent of murdering the English language ourselves.

  2. “epic fail” is a bullshit expression….”fail” is NOT a is a verb…

  3. Grow up people! You’re gonna be asking yourself when you turn 30- , if you live that long why in the hell you acted so immature and stupid. It doesn’t matter where the hell it originated. No one cares. You should be figuring out how in the hell you’re going to pay back all those damn loans you borrowed to go to college… or worse, how in the hell your poor parents are going to pay them back while you’re on the internet posting how epic your life is. Keep playing frickin’ Pokemon when you’re 20 years old, you lazy fux!

  4. When people start discussing anonymously on an internet board, the inevitable result is EPIC FAIL!

  5. Epic became popular from the game “World of Warcraft” and has been around for a wile. recently “failblog” has become popular and geeks combined the two terms to make Epic Fail that and only that is where the term came from.

  6. As far as I can tell, every single person who has posted so far is without a doubt, a fucking moron. Please disregard every single post that has been made, including this one, for good measure.

  7. Why do sooooo many people have trouble with this: Epic Fail means you have failed so bad that it’s actually bordering on an epic win, though not for the reasons YOU intended. But hey, you gave us lulz so the fail was not so terminal

  8. Guys, Epic FAIL means A FUNNY FAIL! As in video games or ROBLOX. Like random death in stickmasterluke’s Jail Break.

  9. Copy says “I’ve noticed that most of the people that say phrases such as this tend to be: pasty, chunky, teenaged. Why do these kids always try so hard to fit in?”

    Because they’re pasty, chunky, and teenaged, perhaps?

  10. The term “epic fail” denotes failure to a great extent. Example: For Shawn to be accepted into his friend’s personal basketball team he would have to score 22 pts in free throw. Shawn falls short 20 pts, EPIC FAIL!!!

  11. Interestingly, the meaning of “epic fail” isn’t something on which people agree, even though they are all using the term. It’s kind of like “great sex” or “delicious meatloaf”. = Epic Fail.

  12. Touch is right.

    All nerd sayings come from Japan (Epic Fail, over 9000 (from Dragon Ball Z)… and 4chan. That’s enough for a life time)

  13. I made up the saying “Epic Fail”.I named it after myself as a self congratulatory salute.The date ws September 25,1957.


  15. Interesting…but the Spanish word you were attempting to use in the final paragraph is “cojones.”
    “Cajones” are drawers. Like in a desk.

  16. The term “epic fail” actually comes from the original 1974 printing of the Dungeons and Dragons handbook. If a player rolled a one on a twenty sided die, regardless of his modifiers, the check was considered such a failure that permanent damage was done to the character, equipment, mind, etc. The term given to such a fail, in print, in the handbook was “epic fail.” As gamers became more and more main stream in the late 90’s and early 00’s the origin of the term was lost in the throngs of mmo’s rpg’s and other suck computer and internet gaming facilities.

  17. Explaining epic fail is failing hard enough already. But doing it without
    linking to 4chan pretty much is
    epic fail.

  18. Epic win? Epic victory? Epic success? I am disappointed. The polar opposite of Epic Fail is obviously Infinite Win, or Winfinity.

  19. @ Tommy,
    Yet, your here calling people idiots for saying “Fail.” Doesn’t make you much better. You fail.

  20. People who say or type “FAIL” at the end of sentences are idiots. This is easily the stupidest trend on the entire internet.

  21. I’ve noticed that most of the people that say phrases such as this tend to be: pasty, chunky, teenaged. Why do these kids always try so hard to fit in?

  22. Technically, the polar opposite of Epic FAIL is epic success, success being the opposite of failure. Learn your definitions.

  23. TBone – you have misunderstood the origins of the phrase: it comes from 80s and 90s Japanese videogames which were poorly translated into English, resulting in “game over” screens which simply said “fail” or, if you were successful, “win”. It’s not about logical opposites, it’s about Engrish! Oh, and it originally comes from Destructoid, not City of Heroes

  24. And here I was under the impression that this was more of a world of warcraft-ism. In this phase of world of warcraft, most player characters are wearing the extremely powerful “epic gear” so most of the content is pretty easy. As a result one common meaning there is: someone who is wearing epics and should be very powerful but flubs up terribly anyway.

  25. this post WAS an epic FAILURE.
    didn`t hit the nail on the head,
    at ALL.
    lmao @ Boondock.

  26. Karma = epic win.

    (For those asleep at the keyboard or lacking common sense, that’s the polar opposite of epic fail.)

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