The idiom washed up or all washed up came into use in the 1920s. We will examine the meaning of the idiom washed up or all washed up, where it may came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.
Washed up or all washed up describes someone whose career is ruined, someone who is no longer successful, someone who has lost his status or is no longer popular or esteemed. The idiom washed up or all washed up came into use in the 1920s and seems to have started as a theatrical term. Originally, washed up or all washed up simply meant that the person in question had finished performing and had washed the stage makeup off his face. In time, washed up or all washed up came to mean that someone was finished for all time, that his career was ruined and that the he would never perform again. The expression washed up is hyphenated when used as an adjective before a noun, as in washed-up.
Most fans around here figured he was washed up when Boston signed him as a free agent in 1971. (The Concord Monitor)
Within a year, Matt was declared bankrupt, told he was ‘washed up’ at 28 and would never be able to succeed in business again. (The Mirror)
It reminded him a bit of Jack Nicklaus winning the U.S. Open at Baltusrol in 1980, the crowds invading the course as the Golden Bear wrapped up a victory that defied those skeptics who thought he was all washed up at age 40. (AP)
By the time Paul reached his senior year of high school, however, he was being recast as a cautionary tale, or as Bleacher Report bluntly put it: he was “all washed up” at age 17. (Forbes Magazine)