close, but no cigar
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See also: close but no cigar
Apparently from the practice of giving cigars as prizes at carnivals in the United States in the 20th century; those who did not win would fail to receive a cigar, even if they came close.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈkləʊs bʌt nəʊ sɪˈɡɑː/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈkloʊs bʌt noʊ sɪˈɡɑɹ/
Audio (AU) (file)
- Hyphenation: close, but no ci‧gar
- (idiomatic, originally US, colloquial) Used to indicate that one is almost correct or has almost succeeded, but not quite. [from early 20th c.]
- Synonyms: almost doesn't count, a miss is as good as a mile
- Betty ran all out in the sprint race; yet, it was close, but no cigar.
- 1929 July 2, J. C. R., “’28’s First”, in Asa S[mith] Bushnell [III], editor, Princeton Alumni Weekly, volume XXIX, number 36, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, ISSN 0149-9270, OCLC 2436114, page 1166, column 2:
- The long distance trophy [for alumni who had traveled the furthest to attend the reunion], an appropriately inscribed silver cigarette case, was awarded to Em Gooch who had made the trip from Lincoln, Neb. for the occasion. Several other members came close, but no cigar, and we trust that all those in New York and Philadelphia who failed to show up, without reason, will read these lines with a quiver.
used to indicate that one is almost correct or has almost succeeded, but not quite
- “close but no cigar” under “cigar, n.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021.
- “close but no cigar, phrase”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
- “close, but no cigar” in Colin McIntosh, editor, Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 4th edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013, →ISBN; reproduced on the Cambridge English Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- “close, but no cigar”, in The Idioms: Largest Idioms Dictionary, accessed 10 May 2021, archived from the original on 30 January 2021