Break a leg

Most Important Level 5

"Break a leg"

Meaning: good luck

Why does it mean that?

This expression was originally used by actors and musicians. The actors and musicians believed that wishing somebody good luck was actually bad luck. So, they began using this expression to wish each other good luck before shows or performances.

Since they believed wishing somebody good luck actually caused bad luck, they started wishing other people bad luck in order to give them good luck.

When do we use it?

We use this strange expression to encourage someone or wish somebody good luck. Originally, this was only used by actors and musicians, but these days we can use it in any situation when we want to wish a person good luck.

How do we use it?

This idiom is almost always used on its own.

A) It is my turn to perform.
B) Break a leg!

A) My piano concert is tomorrow. I have to go home and practice.
B) Break a leg tomorrow.

A) Break a leg, Nick!
B) Thanks.

Example English Conversation

A) I am performing at a concert tomorrow.
B) That's great. Good luck!
A) Don't say that! It is bad luck if you wish a performer good luck before a show.
B) Oh! I didn't know that. Then, what should I say?
A) You should say, "Break a leg."
B) Okay. Well then, "Break a leg."
A) Thanks. I'll call you after the concert and tell you about it.

The more English idioms and expressions that you know, the easier it will be for you to have conversation in English. If you study these free English lessons about commonly used English expressions and idioms consistently, then over time you will build a solid English vocabulary that will help you speak English fluently.