close but no cigar

Idioms & Phrases

close but no cigar

A narrowly missed success, as in That ball was definitely outclose but no cigar. This interjection alludes to awarding a cigar to the winner of some competition, such as hitting a target. [Slang; early 1900s]

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