brass ring

brass ring

noun Informal.
1.
wealth, success, or a prestigious position considered as a goal or prize: Few of those who reach for the brass ring of the Presidency achieve it.
2.
the opportunity to try for such a prize.

Origin:
from the practice of picking a ring from a box while riding a merry-go-round: whoever selected a brass ring received a free ride

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

brass ring

A chance to achieve wealth or success; a prize or reward. For example, "As a businessman he let the brass ring go by too many times. And it got him." This quotation from the Boston Globe (July 31, 1995) refers to an executive who was forced to resign. The term comes from the practice of giving a free ride to the person who succeeded in picking a ring out of a box while riding a merry-go-round. [Slang; late 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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