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For the Show

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Hey, Camp Folks!

Have you ever wondered to yourself why we have certain phrases and sayings that are really built into our everyday speech. Folks find themselves saying phrases like ‘Fly off the Handle’ and ‘Keep it Up’. Often enough, people don’t even realize they’re using one of these sayings or adages—they’re just such a part of our language.

Today we’re examining the origin of the phrase ‘Break a Leg’. Ironically, we use this phrase as a means of wishing someone good luck. While you can really say this to anyone, intending to wish them good luck, this phrase is most commonly used in the context of wishing actors and stage performers a good show on the opening night of a play.

Most people think the saying ‘Break a Leg’ comes from the American theater community throughout the 1900s. The acting community (at least back then) was guilty of some superstitious behavior. And that, as you might imagine, is where today’s phrase comes into play.  

Actors and actresses had come to believe that saying something like "good luck" would actually have the opposite effect on the stage. Therefore, they picked a disastrous misfortune such as a broken leg and wished that upon a fellow actor with the intention that the opposite would happen and they would have an excellent, flawless show.

There are a number of other superstitions for which the theater community has a history of being cautious over. Whistling backstage is frowned upon, believing that it will bring bad luck. Mirrors are also thought to bring bad luck as well as reflecting light that could disrupt the show. Three lit candles are often thought to be a good thing but, once again, onstage this is said to be very unlucky.

So folks, in conclusion, be careful when you’re on the stage. Things seem to have the opposite effect up there. Enjoy another adage origin Blog post from the past by clicking right here. And, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Posted in Adage Origin


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