Idiom – Close but no Cigar
Close but no Cigar – Idiom of the Day
- Be very close to accomplishing a goal but fall short
- Almost successful in doing something, but not quite
- Fall just short of a desired outcome, and get nothing for the efforts
- Nearly, but not completely correct
The expression is said to have originated in the United States, likely during the mid 20th century. It refers to the practice of stalls at fairgrounds and carnivals giving out cigars as prizes.
People would use this phrase for those who were close to winning a prize, but failed to do so.
The earliest printed record of the phrase that we can find is in the Long Island Daily Press on May 18, 1929, with the idiom appearing as the headline of the article titled “Close; But No Cigar”, about a man named Hugo Straub who ended second in two presidential races he was running that finished in the same week.
After this, the phrase began to emerge throughout the United States of America.
- The home team played well, but lost because of a goal scored in the last minute. Close but no cigar, as they say.
- Close but no cigar, I missed first place in the hundred metre sprint by a tenth of a second.
- Actually, my name is Jeremy, not Jimmy. You were close, but no cigar.