"break a leg"

Jan Ivarsson janivars at BAHNHOF.SE
Tue Jan 23 21:38:45 UTC 2001

I've heard actors say "break a leg" meaning "good luck", and I have always thought it was a kind of translation of the German "Hals- und Beinbruch", used in the same way, not only in the theatre.

Jan Ivarsson, TransEdit
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve K." <stevek at SHORE.NET>
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2001 9:27 PM
Subject: Re: "break a leg"

> On Tue, 23 Jan 2001, Laurence Horn wrote:
> > The term break a leg is referring to the curtains on the side of the
> > stage, which are behind the main curtain.  These are the "legs" so
> > breaking a leg means to make it successfully out on to the stage, and
> > then giving a good performance.
> Incidentally, as I alluded to in my other message, I think this is wrong
> simply from the standpoint that it's unlikely that an actor would wish
> someone good luck, as that would be bad luck.
> (I have witnessed superstitous actors walk under ladders backstage without
> a qualm, with the rationale that since that's bad luck, it's therefore
> good luck. [Although it's pretty stupid, since a technician could
> accidently drop something on your head if you bump the ladder.])
> --- Steve K.

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