close, but no cigar

close, but no cigar


  • 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

Example Sentences

  1. You did quite well for someone who was playing for the first time. You attempt for close, but no cigar.
  2. Close, but no cigar; is how I would describe his attempt at the sports event in our locality.
  3. “How did your team do in the tournament?” “Close, but no cigar; we came second.”
  4. Despite all his attempts at winning the competition, he could never quite do it. It was always close, but no cigar.
  5. The team’s performance in the contest was close, but no cigar.
  6. He had always wanted to win that prize and on numerous occasions had been close, but no cigar. This time, though, he managed to win it.
  7. They didn’t quite catch him doing it. They were close, but no cigar.

The phrase originated in the US during the mid 20th century. It alludes to the practice of stalls at fairgrounds and carnivals giving out cigars as prizes. This phrase would be used for those who were close to winning a prize, but failed to do so.

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