close, but no cigar

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close, but no cigar

cliché A phrase said when one is almost correct or successful but ultimately fails. Cigars were once commonly used as prizes or awards. A: "Is the answer 73?" B: "Ooh, close, but no cigar. It's 75, actually." The team captain shoots the puck at the wide-open net, but it bounces off the post! Close, but no cigar!
See also: but, cigar, no
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

Close, but no cigar.

Cliché Some effort came close to succeeding, but did not succeed. (Alludes to not quite winning a cigar as a prize.) Jill: How did you do in the contest? Jane: Close, but no cigar. I got second place.
See also: but, cigar, no
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

close but no cigar

A narrowly missed success, as in That ball was definitely out-close but no cigar. This interjection alludes to awarding a cigar to the winner of some competition, such as hitting a target. [Slang; early 1900s]
See also: but, cigar, close, no
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

close but no cigar

or

nice try but no cigar

You say close but no cigar or nice try but no cigar to mean that someone is almost correct or that they have almost been successful, but are not quite correct or successful. He tried to break the record. It was close, but no cigar. Note: In the past, cigars were sometimes given as prizes at fairs. This expression may have been used if someone did not quite manage to win a prize.
See also: but, cigar, close, no
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

close but no cigar

(of an attempt) almost but not quite successful. North American informal
This phrase possibly originated as a consoling comment to or about a man who put up a good, but not winning, performance in a competition or contest of strength in which the prize was a cigar.
1995 Nick Hornby High Fidelity But, you know…you did not represent my last and best chance of a relationship. So, you know, nice try. Close, but no cigar.
See also: but, cigar, close, no
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

close but no ciˈgar

(American English, informal) used to say that the answer, result, etc. is not quite good enoughThis expression comes from the old US custom of giving a cigar as a prize in fairground games of skill, such as shooting games.
See also: but, cigar, close, no
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

Close, but no cigar

(klos...)
phr. Close, but not close enough to win a prize! Close, but no cigar! Give it another try.
See also: but, cigar, no
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

close but no cigar, (it was)

Nearly successful, but not quite. This slangy Americanism dates from the first half of the twentieth century. It most likely came from the practice of giving a cigar as a prize to the winner of a contest, such as hitting the target in a carnival shooting gallery.
See also: but, close, no
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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