Close but no Cigar (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Close but no Cigar"?

The term "close but no cigar" means to almost accomplish a goal then fall short.
Close but no Cigar (Origin)
"Close but no cigar" originated in the US in the 1800s. Specifically, the term comes from US fairground stalls that, in those days, offered cigars and whiskey as prizes. The proprietor would shout "close, but no cigar!" if a customer performed well, but not quite well enough, in a game.

"Close, but no cigar" has only come into common use since the 1970s (evidence). From a grammatical perspective, it is a sentence fragment as it lacks both a subject and a verb.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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