Origin of ‘close, but no cigar’ and other phrases

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In the early 1800s, guests who overstayed their welcome were literally served a "cold shoulder"

(WYTV) – Here’s the origin of some common expressions.

“Close, but no cigar”
It comes from traveling fairs and carnivals from the 1800s. The prizes back then were not giant-sized stuffed teddy bears, they were usually cigars or bottles of whiskey. If you missed the prize at a carnival game, the carnie folk would shout, “Close! But no cigar!”

“Cold shoulder”
To say you’re giving someone the cold shoulder in the early 1800s had something to do with serving a meal to your guests. If guests overstayed their welcome, you’d serve them a cold cut of shoulder meat — inferior and the toughest part of the animal. Once they got the cold shoulder, they took the hint and left.

“Blockbuster”
This term originated from a type of World War II bomb the Royal Air Force used. The Germans started calling it the “block buster” because the bomb could reduce a single city block to rubble — literally bust the block. Then it came to mean anything big and exciting.

“Breaking the ice”
A special ice-breaking ship with a reinforced bow would sail ahead of an expedition to break the ice and carve a safe path for those behind. Sailing was easier once someone had broken the ice.

“Paint the town red”
Back in 1837, English prankster George Beresford and friends went carousing in the town of Melton Mowbray. George found some red paint and literally painted the town red — the tollgate, statues, many of the town’s front doors. He had enough cash to pay back any damage costs, but what he did became shorthand for having a wild night out.

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