Some experts believe that in the past, in the theatre world, there was a superstitious belief that it was actually bad luck to wish an actor “Good Luck!” before a performance. So instead, people started to use the insult “Break a leg!” as another way of saying “Good luck!” This phrase has traditionally been used to support musicians and actors before they go on stage, but nowadays, it may also be used to wish someone well in other types of performance like a job interview or a speaking exam.
Check out Dara’s video below for more examples of how to use this common idiom!
To break a leg means to break a leg, right?
Well, yes, but it’s also an idiom which means good luck! This may seem strange, but it’s true!
Anyway, only say this directly to somebody. “Break a leg!”
Let’s look at a few examples:
- A: I’m acting in Hamlet tonight. I’ll be playing Kind Claudius.
- B: Oh, wow! Break a leg!
- Best of luck in your exams tomorrow, Jinwoo! Break a leg!
- Break a leg in the match tomorrow – not literally, of course!
So, there we are. Next time a friend of yours has an exam or a job interview, tell them, “Break a leg!”
Do you feel ready to use this expression? Read the questions below, and give it a try!
- What events or activities have friends wished you luck with over the past year. What could they have said to you?
- Your friend is about to go on stage to perform a concert with her rock band. How would you show your support?
- What will you say to an English speaking friend before her next job interview?
- What would you say to a friend who is about to give a performance on stage in a theatre production?
Did you enjoy this lesson? Have you ever tried this expression on a friend in a real-world situation? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!
What are your learning goals for the next year? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a reply on our website below or on one of the Free Spirit English social media channels — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.