What does 功亏一貫 mean in English and its origin?
And what does 貫 mean?
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It means giving up when project is almost done, e.g. a marathon runner quits only one step before the finish line. Often used to attribute failure to lack of persistence.
Planed to build a nine-ren-high dirt mountain, but abandoned the project before finishing the last basket of dirt.
亏：缺少, short of, lack.
篑：盛土的筐子, basket for carrying dirt.
I believe there is an English translation just as picturesque, but I can't come up with it at this moment.