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 is originated in the United States, likely during the 20th century or earlier. 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.

The earliest printed record of the phrase that we can found 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.

Share your opinions2 Opinions

It says you attempt was close

‒ Anonymous September 21, 2020

Also was a NASCAR contingency award

‒ Woody December 9, 2017

What's on your mind?