Why Do We Say Break A Leg?

What does Break a Leg Idiom Sentence mean? What is the Origin of this Phrase? What is the Common Misconception of this Idiom?
why do we say break a leg
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You might have often heard people say the phrase break a leg for your exam. But have you ever wondered why do we say break a leg or what was the origin of this idiom? If yes, then this is the perfect article for you! We are going to discuss is break a leg idiom sentence and, the different meanings of the same.

1. What does Break a Leg mean?

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Break a leg is theatrical slang and an English idiom that is used to cheer up the performing artist before a theatrical run. It is a sign of good luck to the contestants who are going to give their best. Break a leg idiom sentence has made its way in many genres.

For example- People say break a leg for your exam to students who are going to give their exams and are under enormous stress. As this might cheer them up. To get the answer to why do we say break a leg in detail, let’s read the next segment. (See What is the Meaning of What’s Up?)

2. Why do We say Break a Leg?

This is used as an alternative to saying or wishing luck to someone. It is because there is a superstition that saying good luck to someone might turn their luck bad. Additionally, this is also used with a professional dancer. Although saying the idiom before a dance could mean injury to someone, people now use merde which is a French version of the break a leg phrase. (See Can you say Fair Winds and Following Seas when Someone dies?)

3. What is the Origin of this Idiom?

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There was an ongoing edition of News Statements by Robert Wilson Lynd, an urbane Irish nationalist, who published an article on October 1, 1921, under the name of A Defence of Superstitions. The article discussed views of Robert on superstitions regarding theatrical performances and why they fail. He compared them to horse racing and talked that people often lose bets as they are wished good luck which eventually becomes bad luck for many people. So rather than wishing good luck to them, it is better to say, may you break your leg! He didn’t intend to insult or threaten anyone but rather use it for reverse psychology. (See What is Kung Hei Fat Choi in English?)

4. When was the Idiom first used in a Publication?

Many people debate over the actual origin of this idiom. It is still discussed whether the answer to why do we say break a leg had its origins in the 1920s or 1930s. Since one argument of the same is already discussed above. However, the first true publishing in the domain of theatre came from an autobiography by Edna Ferber in 1939 titled A Peculiar Treasure. In that, she wrote a line mentioning that it is better to say break a leg to an artist or a performer rather than wishing him good luck. (See Dead as a Doornail or Doorknob Meaning)

5. What is the Other Meaning of Break a Leg Idiom Sentence?

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Break a leg, in some form or the other, is also referred to as working hard to the absolute maximum capacity of your body. Since it was much more popularized and defaulted in so many sentences like break a leg for your exam. So, for people from theatre, it would reflect wishing good luck to a student, but people without knowledge of such word would mistake it for being working hard. For instance, the phrase break a leg for this interview can be said to someone who has an upcoming interview. (See What does it Mean when a Monarch Butterfly Visits you?)

6. What is the Common Misconception of this Idiom?

This phrase was one of the fairly used ones. However, it was common for many folks not to know what this term exactly meant. Thus, for an extended period, people thought that break a leg suggests doing something wrong, illegal or unethical. They would often say phrases like, I might have to break a leg to make you pay or don’t make me break a leg. Moreover, they were taken as a threat.

Soon, another perception was popularized that meant break a leg was used to chill someone out or to relieve stress. For example, don’t panic just break a leg or break a leg and you’ll figure it out. (Also read What is the Theme of The Masque of the Red Death?)

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