Close but no cigar

If you try something and fall just short of achieving it people might say “close but no cigar”.  It is a fairly friendly way of saying “buddy, you didn’t quite make it.”

Close enough for a cigar, pic: © Budda | Dreamstime.com

It is a expression used among friends and is non-offensive and in the universe of possible ways of telling people they failed this falls on the harmless, friendly side of the spectrum.

It is a funny little expression and seems to make no sense until you understand where it comes from (at least most likely comes from):  cigars where standard prices (I assume for the men only but who knows) on the fairgrounds of the olden days, i.e. the 20th century.  So if somebody played a game on the fairgrounds and didn’t quite make it the standard expression was “close but no cigar.”

In California nobody smokes anymore but the expression remains.

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