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Break a leg!

I wish you good luck


Break a leg! = Toi Toi Toi! Hals und Beinbruch!



“BREAK A LEG… is not limited to stage performers,… you can say this phrase to anyone.”

Kelly Kuehn - Reader’s Digest

Did you

Break a leg!

- used for wishing someone good luck, especially before a performance

Cambridge Dictionary


This phrase has its origin in the world of theater. Performers had a superstition that saying “good luck” would actually bring them bad luck, so “break a leg” was used as a substitute.

But why should the breaking of a leg be associated with good luck? There are many theories, here are the most common:

- stomping vs. clapping = Ancient Greek audiences stomped their feet instead of clapping. By wishing an actor to “break a leg”, they meant that the show would be so successful that an audience member would stomp so hard that s/he would break their own leg.

- breaking a chair leg = later audiences, including audiences in Shakespearean plays, would stomp their chairs. A great show meant that at least one chair leg would be broken by the end of the night.

- bowing to the audience = Some believe that “break a leg” comes from the way actors’ legs bend when they are bowing at the end of a good show. A very good show would certainly result in lots of bowing!

- wishful thinking = Edna Ferber’s A Peculiar Treasure from 1939 recounts the way understudies (Stellvertreter(in), Zweitbesetzer, Einspringer, Ersatz) would sit in the back row “politely wishing the various principals would really break a leg”. That way, they’d get to act the part instead.


It’s said that the actor playing Lady Macbeth tragically died on the play’s opening night in 1606,... and then Shakespeare himself had to step in as substitute.

This unfortunate event led to the belief that uttering the word “Macbeth” in the theatre would curse the production. As a result many actors only refer to Shakespeare’s famous tragedy as “The Scottish Play“, “The Bard’s Play”, or even “Mac B.”.  


Best of British! Best of luck! All the best! Blow them away! BREAK A LEG! Godspeed! Good luck! Lots of luck! May The Force Be With You! / MTFBWY!

SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“I heard that your presentation to management is tomorrow,… BREAK A LEG!”

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Paul Smith

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